Sochi, Russia (13 March 2014) – Fresh spring-like snow welcomed skiers in the men’s Paralympic Slalom at Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre on Thursday night. For New Zealand's Adam Hall, defending gold medallist from the 2010 Vancouver games, this would be the most anticipated event of the games so far. Unfortunately he would come into competition severely affected by a stomach complaint and his performance would be compromised.
There was never any doubt that the battle for the top spot would be hard-fought. Adam shares the number one world ranking with three others: France's Vincent Gauthier-Manuel, Austria's Matthias Lanzinger and Russia’s Alexey Bugaev. The Russian skier had placed first in the Slalom component of the Super-Combined event on Tuesday and Austrian Matthias Lanzinger third. The Frenchman Gauthier-Manuel would be eager to get back on the podium after he was third in the downhill and fourth in the super-G.
Adam Hall would need to bring his best performance to the race course to be able to defend his title. Suffering the effects of a stomach upset since Thursday morning he would struggle to find his top form.
The Slalom event is contested over two runs and final placings determined by the combined time. The course is re-set between the first and second runs and racers must successfully finish their first run to be able to start their second.
A factoring system allows para-alpine skiers to compete fairly against each other in the same race despite different functional skiing levels and medical issues.
New Zealand’s Corey Peters would also be in the mix in the men’s sitting class. Although his strengths lie in the speed disciplines rather than the technical Slalom, Corey had posted a sixth place finish in the Super-Combined Slalom and would come into this event focused on completing two clean runs.
The pace was blistering from the start, Vincent Gauthier-Manuel and then Alexey Bugaev posting exceptionally fast times in the men’s Standing class. Adam was the 13th racer to start in his class. His run was clean but not fast enough to get near the top. His time put him into seventh place, 3.02s off Bugaev’s lead after run one.
In the sitting class Corey started 28th of 41 skiers in his class. Coming out of the gates with a confident start, he found a decent pace before a mistake brought him almost to a complete stand still. Continuing on he once again picked up his speed to finish in 16th 7.21s off the leader Dino Sokolovic of Croatia.
With the second course set, run two got underway under floodlights. Adam was the ninth skier to start. Smooth and controlled through the top half Adam made easy work of the first gates where others had struggled; however a slight falter near the end cost him some time. Adam Hall would finish is day in seventh place.
“Adam is obviously hugely disappointed but we are seeking medical advice, both from Russia and New Zealand, and hope that he will be able to make a swift recovery in time for the Super-G tomorrow (Sochi time),” commented Chef de Mission Ashley Light after the race.
Paralympic medals in men’s standing class would go to:
1: Alexey Bugaev (RUS) 2:Vincent Gauthier-Manuel (FRA) 3: Alexander Alyabyev (RUS)
Corey Peters finished the Slalom with a DNF after skiing out of the course mid-way through his second run. Only 16 of the 41 skiers who started in the sitting class would finish the course.
Paralympic medals in men’s sitting class would go to:
1: Takeshi Suzuki (JPN) 2: Philipp Bonadimann (AUT) 3: Roman Rabl (AUT)
The next Kiwi in action at the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games will be snowboarder Carl Murphy who takes on the new Paralympic event of Snowboard Cross at 7pm Friday NZT.
Adam Hall and Corey Peters will then contest the Super-G component of the Super-Combined event early on Saturday morning (NZT).
The New Zealand team’s events will be livestreamed on attitudelive.com/paralympics.
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