Sky-Hi Daily News
Winter Park skiers had a strong showing at the Vancouver Paralympic Games in the men’s standing giant slalom competition on Wednesday.
The top U.S. men’s finisher was Brad Washburn of Winter Park, who finished in 16th place with a time 10.93 seconds behind gold medalist German skier Gerd Schonfelder.
“I was going for it on that run,” commented Washburn after his second run. “I felt like I didn’t have too big of mistakes on that run. It was pretty good for me. The course was holding up a lot better than the first run. I think they put some salt down or something. The course was a lot smoother, for me at least. I felt like I skied it a lot better than my first run.”
His teammate George Sansonetis of Fraser finished 27th in the giant slalom standing event with a time of 2:45.42.
Skiing continues for the standing athletes with the downhill scheduled for March 18, super-G on March 20, and the super combined on March 21.
Women’s giant slalom, visually impaired skiing
Visually impaired skier Danielle Umstead, 38, who skis with guide and husband Rod Umstead, placed 8th out of 11 skiers in the giant slalom competition of the Vancouver Paralympics at Whistler Creekside on Tuesday.
Umstead fell during her second run during rainy weather. The duo said they hoped for a sunny day for the downhill event later this week.
“The snow was awesome,” Danielle said. “The course workers and everyone else did a great job keeping the course fantastic. What vision that I have, I really rely on, has been totally affected by the rain drops that totally take over my goggles. That has played a major role on why I fell and why I’m having a hard time today.”
She and Rod also commented on the crowd noise, which can sometimes affect a blind skier’s performance, dependent on guide commands.
“Without her vision, sound is a key sense for her,” Rod said after the second race.
“Oh, I love the spectators,” Danielle said. “I just love hearing them after I get to the finish.”
Of Taos, Park City and Winter Park, the Umsteads have been competing together for less than two years, calling themselves team Vision4Gold. “Vision” is not just for sight, the five-time national adaptive ski champion has said, but for “an idea, or a dream.”
Men’s giant slalom, sitting
Three-time paralympian and law school student Nick Catanzarite, 33, of Winter Park finished 23rd in Tuesday’s men’s giant slalom in the sitting division.
Skiing on U.S. adaptive ski teams since 2002, his best finish so far was in 2005 when he placed second in the Super G during U.S. championships.
While Catanzarite was still in high school, a ski accident caused critical back injuries that resulted in him being paralyzed from the chest down after a late start out of the gates while attending an intensive ski-racing program.
Catanzarite’s teammate at the Vancouver Games in the sit-ski super-G, Winter Park’s Gerald Hayden, did not finish.
‰ Look for final results for local competitors in Monday’s Sky-Hi Daily News
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