CALGARY (February 16, 2018) – Twelve para-alpine ski racers will kick out of the start gate for Canada at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, Alpine Canada Alpin announced on Friday.
Seven men and five women have been formally nominated for selection to compete in South Korea as part of the Canadian Paralympic Team. The dozen para-alpine athletes represent a high-powered combination of World Championship, World Cup, and Paralympic medallists, as well as up-and-comers vying for experience at their first Winter Games.
The skiers nominated are:
|Alex Cairns||Squamish, BC|
|Alexis Guimond||Gatineau, QC|
|Braydon Luscombe||Duncan, BC|
|Mac Marcoux||Sault Ste-Marie, ON|
|Jack Leitch (guide to Mac Marcoux)||Calgary, AB|
|Kurt Oatway||Calgary, AB|
|Kirk Schornstein||Spruce Grove, AB|
|Mollie Jepsen||West Vancouver, BC|
|Erin Latimer||Toronto, ON|
|Mel Pemble||Victoria, BC|
|Alana Ramsay||Calgary, AB|
|Frederique Turgeon||Candiac, QC|
Mac Marcoux (Sault Ste-Marie, ON) raced to a gold in the giant slalom and bronze in both downhill and super-G at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games at just 16 years old.
Marcoux and his current guide, Jack Leitch (Calgary, AB), began skiing together in 2016 and have found huge success on the para-alpine circuit. Together they swept the 2017 International Paralympic Committee World Championships in downhill, super-G, slalom and giant slalom. After winning multiple World Cup podiums, the duo wrapped the 2017-18 World Cup season ranked the top overall male para-alpine athletes. They head to PyeongChang as heavy medal favourites.
“I couldn’t be more excited and honoured to be representing Canada at my second Paralympic Winter Games,” said 20-year-old Marcoux. “Right now I’m focused on taking advantage of our final few weeks of training before heading to South Korea. Going into the Games, Jack and I are going to try to enter each day with clear heads and just ski the best we can.”
Kurt Oatway (Calgary, AB), Kirk Schornstein (Spruce Grove, AB) and Braydon Luscombe (Duncan, BC) also represented Canada in Sochi, and are the team’s most seasoned veterans. In Sochi, Oatway narrowly missed the podium in downhill, placing fifth. He was the top-ranked sit-skier on the World Cup circuit in downhill in 2016, and has his sights set on the speed events in PyeongChang.
Rising star Alexis Guimond (Gatineau, QC) earned two World Cup wins during the past two seasons, and will be vying for the podium at his first Paralympics. Newcomer Alex Cairns (Squamish, BC) will also be looking to make his mark at his first Games.
The women’s team includes Alana Ramsay (Calgary, AB), who wrapped the 2017-18 World Cup season ranked second overall. She gained experience at the Sochi Paralympic Games in 2014 where she competed as a rising athlete, but this time around, she’s hungry for more.
“Since participating in the Sochi Paralympics, I feel like I’ve come so far,” Ramsay said. “I’ve stood on the podium for the first time and collected some World Championship medals. I’m confident heading into these Games that I will make Canada proud. I’m so honoured to represent this country. I’m excited to do my best and determined to bring home some medals.”
Like Ramsay, Erin Latimer (Toronto, ON) also skied at the 2014 Paralympic Games as a developing athlete and is ready to tackle the track in South Korea with more experience under her skis. Rounding out the women’s team are young guns Mollie Jepsen (West Vancouver, BC), Frederique Turgeon (Candiac, QC) and Mel Pemble (Victoria, BC), who will be competing in their first Paralympics.
The medal-hungry Canadian team is focused and ready to compete, said Matt Hallat, athletic director for the para-alpine team.
“I’m proud of where this team has come. We’ve worked very hard to prepare ourselves for the task ahead,” said Hallat, who himself raced in three Paralympics before retiring in 2014. “We know we can compete with the best in the world, and look forward to the opportunity.”
The Canadian Paralympic Team won eight medals in para-alpine events at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games: two gold, one silver and five bronze.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, I congratulate the para-alpine athletes who were named to the Canadian Paralympic Team today,” said The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “Canada has a proud history at the Paralympic Winter Games, and our team’s experience and unparalleled dedication to sport will be showcased as our athletes reach for the podium.”
The 12 para-alpine athletes have been nominated to the Canadian Paralympic Committee, who will announce the complete Canadian Paralympic Team heading to PyeongChang on February 26.
Story and Photo: Canadian Paralympic Committee