Evan Strong wins gold on Day 1 of world cup finals

By Katie Branham | Feb. 11, 2014, 11:35 a.m. (ET)
Finland's Matti Suur-Hamari with Evan Strong and Keith Gabel
Matti Suur-Hamari of Finland (left) joined Team USA's Evan Strong and Keith Gabel on the podium at the world cup finals.

Evan Strong
Evan Strong, ranked No. 1 in the world with teammate Mike Shea, claimed a gold medal in the first world cup final.

LA MOLINA, Spain – Evan Strong won gold as Team USA claimed four podium finishes on the first day of competition at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing Para-Snowboard World Cup Finals in La Molina, Spain on Tuesday.

It was an incredibly close race for the podium in the men’s lower limb impairment class, with less than three-tenths of a second separating first from third. Strong (Nevada City, Calif.) clocked the fastest time of the day with his two best runs giving him a combined time of 1:21.58. Matti Suur-Hamari of Finland claimed the runner-up spot in 1:21.85, with Team USA’s Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) grabbing bronze in 1:21.87.

Mike Shea (Castaic, Calif.) took fourth place, but with his impressive run of world cup finishes this year, he cemented his spot at the overall World Cup title for the 2013-2014 season. Heading into Tuesday’s competition, Shea won four gold medals and a silver medal in the five previous world cup races.

On the women’s side, Amy Purdy (Las Vegas, Nev.) clocked the second-fastest time on each run of the day to earn the silver medal in a time of 1:35.96, behind Bibian Mentel of the Netherlands who won gold in 1:27.37. Nicole Roundy (Bountiful, Utah) won her first-ever medal at an IPCAS Snowboard World Cup as she finished third in 1:39.55.

Other U.S. finishers included Tyler Burdick (Salt Lake City, Utah) in eighth and Dan Monzo (Vernon, N.J.) in 10thin the men’s lower limb class and Heidi Jo Duce (Ouray, Colo.) in sixth and Cristina Albert (Denver, Colo.) in eighth in the women’s lower limb class.

Competition continues on Wednesday with a second round of world cup finals races.

The world cup finals are the last competition for Team USA before men’s and women’s snowboard cross for athletes with a lower limb impairment debuts at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games on March 14 as a part of the alpine skiing program. The U.S. Paralympic Snowboarding Team was nominated in early February.

Complete results and more information are available at Paralympic.org.