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PARALYMPICS: Jones, Dukat land on podium in slalom

PARALYMPICS: Jones, Dukat land on podium in slalom{mosimage}SESTRIERE, Italy — Former world champion Allison Jones (LW-2) and Sandy Dukat (LW-2) Saturday and the three-trackers churned their way to gold and bronze medals in the Paralympics slalom.

‘My expectation was to win. I wanted this more than any of the other races’ said Jones, who won the 2004 World Championships downhill and then stormed to the giant slalom and downhill gold medals after having to reluctantly ‘settle’ for silver in super G.

‘I was waiting for it all week. I killed it. I cannot ask for anything better’ said Jones, who was born without a right femur. A mechanical engineering student at the University of Denver when she’s not training or racing, Jones earned two silver medals (GS, SG) at the 2002 Paralympics.

Jones had an adjusted, two-run time of 1 minute, 30.14 seconds, with Solene Jambaque of France (LW-9/2) second in 1:32.61. Dukat finished in 1:33.66 with Elitsa Storey (LW-2) sixth.

‘The course was made for Allison and me’ said Dukat, the 2002 Paralympics bronze medalist in slalom. Born without a right femur, her right foot was amputated when she was 4; she also picked up the super G bronze four years ago. Head coach Kevin Jardine said the second run, which was set tight and down the fall line, favored the standup skiers more than the first run, which went side to side more.

‘This was something I knew I had inside me. I had the run of my life’ Dukat said. ‘The result is a testament to how hard we train’ she went on, ‘and how much the USA ski staff have supported us.’

‘We saw some determined skiing out there today. ‘Jonezy’ has been so close and she wasn’t going to go home without a medal, and same thing with Sandy; they really attacked.

‘Allison was third after the first run and then just crushed the field. I think that may have been the most aggressive run I’ve ever seen from her … and she always attacks. It was wonderful to watch. She just fired, top to bottom’ Jardine said.

He also had high praise for Storey, an 18-year-old in her first Paralympics who finished sixth. ‘I’m really proud of the way Elitsa’s gotten better each race. She had a serious mistake in the first run but she kept after it. I think she saw today she definitely can be a contender on this circuit and in four years she can be on the podium, too.’

In the men’s standup category, Austrian Robert Meusburger (LW-4) won in an adjusted 1:22.01 with Monte Meier (LW-2), the 1998 Paralympic slalom gold medalist, top American in eighth place after producing the fastest second run. Brad Washburn (LW-4), a 19-year-old in his first Paralympics, was 10th.

In the Chisone Valley below Sestriere, sit-skiers competed in the long-distance cross-country race. Belarussian Ljudmila Vauchok (LW-11) won the women’s 10 km in 30:54.5 with Monica Bascio (LW-11) fifth in 33:00.6 while Candace Cable (LW-11) — a six-time Boston Marathon wheelchair champion who started as an alpine Paralympian in 1992 and switched to cross-country a year later – finishing her five-Games career in eighth place (35:12.8).

‘Monica’s still new to skiing, but she’s continuing to get better, and this was an outstanding day for her’ said coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. ‘And Candace, our ‘Irongirl,’ went out hammering all the way. At 51, with five Paralympics, she’s an inspiration; she’s given so much to cross-country, so much to disabled in every way — lifestyle, not just competition — and we’ve all been fortunate to be around her. We’re going to miss her outlook, her energy … and everything she brings to everything she does.’

The standup and visually impaired cross-country skiers complete their Paralympics Sunday with their long-distance races while the alpine standups and blind or visually impaired finish with their slalom.


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