Para-alpine championships a success

Promo 2 BW Bluebird skies and warm spring sun provided a great backdrop for medal winning performances by Canada’s para-alpine athletes, including Sun Peaks’ Pramod “Promo” Thapa.

While the mild spring weather at Sun Peaks meant snow conditions for the para-alpine Canadian Championships and Nor-Am Cup races were less than ideal, it wasn’t enough to stop racers from giving it their all.

Thapa made the podium finishing third in the junior national championships GS and eighth in the men’s standing GS category of the Canadian championships. Thapa’s coach, Jim Knowles, was excited about the result and happy Thapa “was on the podium with two other Canadians.”

In his other races Knowles said that Thapa “didn’t finish his first slalom for Nor-Ams,” crashing on his first run, adding that on the second day “(Thapa) finished the Canadian championships but didn’t podium.”

The para-alpine championships provided some great opportunities for Thapa including attending the Redefining Limits camp, held by Canadian para-alpine ski team members Matt Hallat and Josh Dueck.

“To sum it up, (the camp) was perfect,” said Dueck. “We had a really great group of athletes, which is a really good sign for Canada. Our next generation of athletes coming through the system is very strong, very talented, and with the right support, they’ll go the distance and be future champions.”

Building on Thapa’s exposure to national team athletes, and racing successes, he’s been invited to train with the US Development Team at Mt. Hood, Ore. in June. Says his coach, “that’s huge.”

During the Sun Peaks-hosted events local racer Alain Cordonier was a forerunner for GS and slalom, and Knowles said he “did a great job,” bringing out the festive cheers by dressing as the Easter bunny on slalom day.

The first day of competition saw the Canadian championships GS titles decided and it was eight-time Canadian champion Josh Dueck that blitzed the field in the men’s sitting category, winning the final by almost five seconds. In the ladies’ standing category 16-year-old Erin Latimer had a breakout race to win gold.

Gold in the slalom and GS races was a fitting end to Canadian Paralympic summer and winter games gold medalist, Viviane Forest’s, ski racing career. Forest’s win capped one of the most successful para-alpine careers to date — she’s a three time Paralympic gold medalist, winning five medals at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, was IPC World Cup champion in 2009 and has had 17 World Cup and eight world championship podium finishes.

Other notable results from the para-alpine championships include the Marcoux brothers claiming top position in the junior male division. Racing in the visually impaired category — Mac guided by his brother Billy Joe — they had a winning weekend, claiming gold in each slalom and GS race, with the exception of the Nor-Am slalom. Alexandra Starker was crowned top female junior, and Kirk Schornstein the male slalom champion.

For results go to: paralympic.org/alpineskiing