Anzere, Switzerland, Feb. 4--U.S. disabled alpine skiers closed thegap in the medals count Thursday as Sarah Billmeier (Yarmouth, ME; LW-2)won her third straight gold medal at the World Championships, capturingslalom while Sarah Will (Vail, CO; LW-11) and Mary Riddell (Dove Creek,CO; LW-4) each collected another silver medal.
Billmeier, a student at Dartmouth College when she's not training orracing, led the first run by two seconds and then held off a furioussecond-run charge by Austrian Danja Haslacher to pickup her third goldmedal of the championships. The winning total time for Billmeier - wholost her left leg to cancer when she was a youngster - was 1:54.65 withHaslacher silver medalist in 1:54.93. They were 21 seconds ahead of thefield!
In the mono-ski race covering three classes (LW-10, -11, -12), Will hada strong second run to close on first-run leader Vreni Stoeckli ofSwitzerland. Stoeckli, also an LW-11, won in an adjusted time of 1:49.46and Will - who broke her back in a 1988 skiing accident - took thesilver in 1:49.86. Muffy Davis (Sun Valley, ID; LW-10), gold medalist ingiant slalom Tuesday, finished fifth.
In the combined class for stand-up skiers apart from LW-2, CanadianLauren Woolstencroft won in an adjusted 1:43.75, two seconds ahead ofRiddell. Jennifer Kelchner (Cazenovia, NY; LW-4) was fifth.
In addition to the conclusion of the alpine races, the nordic WorldDisabled Championships - one ridgeline over in Crans Montana - alsowind-up Friday with distance races. U.S. cross country skiers have wonfive medals at the championships, including gold and silver for SteveCook (Salt Lake City; LW-4) and three silver medal for two sit-skiers -two for Candace Cable (Truckee, CA; LW-11) and one for Bob Balk(Penfield, NH; LW-12).
With one day remaining at World Championships VI, Austria has the mostmedals (20) with the USA runnerup (19) while German and U.S. skiers haveeight gold medals apiece. The schedule concludes Friday with the men'sslalom; blind men raced with the women in slalom.
Billmeier - who came into Anzere with seven Paralympics gold medals andthree (DH/SG/SL) from the 1996 World Disabled Championships - earnedthree more golds this time (in the same three events as '96) plus asilver in super G.