PYEONGCHANG, South Korea– The crowds were out in full force and the sun was shining as the athletes brought their final individual performances to the stadium competing in the classic technique middle-distance event. Most of the para-athletes who competed today still have one powerful performance to thrill the crowd: the relays on Sunday 18th March. The conditions have been very versatile, one day is cold and snowy and the next day the sun is shining melting the snow.
Jake Adicoff B3 and guide Sawyer Kesselheim led the day in the Men’s Visually Impaired 10km race capturing a silver medal, which is the first of their Paralympic career.
“It was great. We got out here and the skiing was just so good. The skis were maybe the best out there, so it was a big help and the race was just super fun. We started skiing a little bit conservative and then just tried to build throughout the race.” he said.
In the Women’s standing division middle-distance race 7.5km, first-time Paralympian Grace Miller finished her second longest race ever in a place of 18th. When asked about the condition of the course she said “Great race, great snow, sunny and warm, perfect spring scene.”
In the Women’s sit-ski 5km race Oksana claimed her second gold at these games and of her entire ski racing career. She has been voted the honour of carrying the American Flag into the Closing Ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games on March 18. For the rest of the women sit skiers Kendall Gretsch finished 6th and Joy Rondeau 19th.
For another newcomer Mia Zutter, who raced in the Women’s 7.5km visually impaired class had another chance to improve her technique and build on the relationship with her guide Kristina Trygstad-Saari.
“The more we ski together the better we will be at working together and the closer that we would be able to ski together which is really going to help Mia maximize her race experience” Kristina said.
In Men’s sitting class of the middle-distance cross-country race Dan Cnossen claimed another silver, extending his medal streak of a total of six medals, while the South Korean Eui Hyun Sin he clinched the country’s first Gold medal in Cross Country Skiing. Andy Soule came in 5th, Sean Halsted in 23rd, and Bryan Price in 26th and rounding it out was Jeremy Wagner in 30th.
The way that you knew that South Korea would not be going down without a fight was simple, they have Seoul.
South Korea entered the Gangneung Hockey Centre to have their match against Italy with one thing on their mind: not letting their country down. The South Korean faithful were stacked in full force for this one. The team did not disappoint, taking home the Bronze medal the score: 1-0.
It was scoreless into the third period when at the 41:42 mark of the game, when Korea got the game winner from the stick of Dong Shin Jang with the assists from Seung Hwan Jung and Jong Kyung Lee.
Now that the Bronze is out of the way, tomorrow is the gold medal match for Team USA and Team Canada the game is expected to be an ol’ fashioned shootout at noon, similar to the O.K. Corral. The U.S. who have allowed one goal in comparison to the 38 scored, will have Brody Roybal, scorer of 11 of those goals leading them while Canada Captain Greg Westlake, who has said this is his last go around for Team Canada, will lead the team that has not let a goal in compared to the 42 they have scored so far this tournament. It’s going to be a barnburner for sure.
In curling, Norway and China were set to go in the gold medal match, after Norway defeated host country South Korea yesterday. But in the end, they would bow to the Chinese in an extra side (End 9) by the score of 6-5.
In Alpine skiing competitions are down to the last discipline: Slalom. At Jeongseon Alpine center it was a crisp sunny day. Perfect skiing conditions for the technical discipline of Slalom where athletes must take several turns through closely spaced gates. In the first run Team USA’s Kevin Burton and Guide Brandon Ashby finished in 9th position in the Visually Impaired Category. In the Standing category Jamie Stanton came out victorious on top with 48.51 seconds, just 0.03 seconds ahead of French competitor Arthur Bauchet. Thomas Walsh came in 5th. For the men’s sitting category Tyler Walker finished strong in second position after Run 1.
Run two takes place on a different course to truly test agility. The course length at the Jeongseon Alpine center is 560 meters long.
The winner is the one who has the fastest combined time from both runs. Kevin Burton got tripped by a gate and unfortunately did not finish in the second run. Gold went to Italian Giacomo Bertagnolli in the Visually Impaired category. Jamie Stanton finished run 2 with a Bronze medal for Team USA.
On winning today Jamie said, “It’s been an awesome seven years but a tough seven years. I had to sacrifice a lot but it all paid off today.” For the final run in Men’s sitting the course didn’t work out for Jasmin Bambur and Josh Elliot as they did not finish.
However, the New Hampshire native Tyler Walker took home his second silver medal of the Paralympic Games. Afterwards he said “I never ever thought I would be in this position. It’s amazing. I got all my frustration and emotion out in the Giant slalom and so I could relax a lot more today and just go skiing.”