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PARALYMPICS: American Steve Cook wins 2nd gold of Torino Games

PARALYMPICS: American Steve Cook wins 2nd gold of Torino Games{mosimage}PRAGELATO PLAN, Italy – American Steve Cook, the 5-kilometer champion in free technique three days earlier, tore through the 10 km classic technique race Wednesday to earn his second gold medal of the IX Paralympic Winter Games.

Cook, arguably the strongest skater among standup skiers on the Disabled World Cup – but who struggled earlier in the winter after a preseason heavy workout on his classic technique (both skis in prepared tracks), had an adjusted time of 27 minutes, 22.8 seconds. That brought him home more than a half-minute ahead of Russian Alfis Makamedinov (LW-2) in the middle distance race.

‘I can’t believe it’ said Cook, who lost his right leg below the knee in a 1988 farm accident. “After winning my first race here, I feel like I relieved a little bit of the pressure that I had put on myself. Now I am able to concentrate on just skiing and competing to the best of my ability.

‘This is amazing, it’s icing on the cake.’

‘For two races now, ‘Cookie’ has flat-out skied his heart out’ said head coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. ‘He has just put the pedal down and gone; he doesn’t second-guess himself and he doesn’t overthink these races – he knows he has to ski fast, so he simply turns it on. And I’ll tell ya – he was cranking! He was gonna stay together and win or he was gonna explode out there, because he was moving like pistons in a high-powered engine.”

He paused and added, ‘I was heading out of the waxing area when Cookie came back after the race and he yelled at me, ‘Hey … ‘ and we shared a hug and he just said, ‘Thanks … thanks.’ He’s so modest, so humble and he works for everything he gets. There’s no entitlement there – Cookie’s like Daron Rahlves, just a wonderful mix of talent and hard work and great humility. It’s just so good to see good things happen to good people.’

Kreamelmeyer also was excited about Mike Crenshaw (LW-4), 51 and competing in his fourth Paralympics, who finished seventh in the standup category, less than two minutes behind Cook. ‘At this point in his career, for ‘Crenny’ to come up with that great a race … well, that’s a medal for him’ the coach said. ‘He laid it on the line and for a large part of the race, he and Steve were one-two; there were 29 skiers and Crenny skied ninth and Cookie went 12th, so they had a while to wait to see what would happen.’

Cook, who turned to cross-country skiing as a way to help boost his cycling after his injury, started the race slowly. He was ninth at the first kilometer, but then he gathered steam and had the fastest second lap.

‘It’s great to see the team out here doing well’ Cook said. ‘We have great skis, great wax techs, great coaches … our team is so supportive of each other and it’s fun to see what we’re capable of.’

Kreamelmeyer echoed Cook’s praise for what his staff went through to prepare the skis on a tricky waxing day where temperatures were about 40 F in bright sunshine. ‘We were on soft snow and all the teams were trying to figure out whether to go with hard wax or klister. We went with hard wax and had great glide.’

Said Crenshaw, who is stronger in classic than skating, ‘That was a much better race for me. I knew Cook would be coming up on me, so when he did I just latched on and tried to hang with him.’

Perkins, who competed Tuesday in the 7.5 km biathlon, said, ‘It was a good race. There are a lot of really fast guys competing in this class. I definitely left it all out there.’

In the sit-skier category, Monica Bascio (LW-11) was seventh with Candace Cable (LW-11) 10th in the women’s 5 km. In the men’s sit-skier 10 km, Chris Klebl (LW-11) had the top U.S. result, finishing 18th. Kelly Underkofler (LW-8) was 11th among standup women in their 10 km.

The cross-country schedule resumes Friday with relays and concludes Saturday with the long-distance events.


Pragelato Plan, Italy – March 15, 2006
Cross-country middle-distance races
(All times adjusted)
Men’s 10 km – standups

1. Steve Cook, LW-4, Salt Lake City, 27:22.8
2. Alfis Makamedinov, LW-2, Russia, 27:59.8
3. Kirill Mikhaylov, LW-4; Russia, 28:06.5

7. Mike Crenshaw, LW-4, Boulder, Colo., 29:18.0
16. Dan Perkins, LW-4, North Syracuse, N.Y., 30:33.7

Men’s 10 km – Sit-skiers
1. Taras Kryjanovski, LW-11.5, Russia, 26:43.6
2. Sergei Shilov, LW-10, Russia, 26:52.1
3. Iurii Kostiuk, LW-10.5, Ukraine, 27:10.9

18. Chris Klebl, LW-11, Heber City, Utah, 29:24.3
20. Bob Balk, LW-1l.5, Long Beach, Calif., 29:38.2
22. Greg Mallory, LW-11, Portland, Ore., 30:21.1

(No U.S. blind skiers)

Women’s 5 km – sit-skiers
1. Olena Iurkovska, LW-12, Ukraine, 16:39.7
2. Liudmilla Vauchok, LW-11, Belarus, 17:12.8
3. Colette Bourgonje, LW-10, Canada, 17:18.7

7. Monica Bascio, LW-11, Evergreen, Colo., 18:29.8
10. Candace Cable, LW-11, Truckee, Calif., 19:15.1

Women’s 10 km – standups
1. Anna Burmistrova, LW-8, Russia, 34:12.2
2. Yukiya Batenkova, LW-6, Ukraine, 34:30.8
3. Anne Floriet, France, LW-9, 34:39.3

11. Kelly Underkofler, LW-8, St. Paul, Minn., 40:24.8
(No U.S. blind skiers)

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