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Anzere, Switzerland, Feb. 4–A record haul of seven medals on thefinal day – four by U.S. alpine ski racers and three in cross country -gave the U.S. Disabled Ski Team another most-medals title Friday as thealpine and nordic World Disabled Championships. Mono-skier Chris Waddell(Park City, UT; LW-10) took his fourth medal of the championships as hewon the men’s slalom while Bob Balk (Penfield, NY; LW-12) won gold incross country.
“This is a great day. We said from the start we’re counting alpine andnordic, and JK’s John Kreamelmeyer, cross country head coach skiersdid a great job this week. They put us over the top,” said EwaldZirbisegger, U.S. head coach as he reviewed the final figures. The finaltally – USA 31 medals (including 11 gold medals), to 30 for Germany.
On the final day, Waddell – stymied all week, but still tenacious enoughto medal in each race – bagged his first gold of these championships.Waddell, who broke his back in 1988 while skiing, also collected silvermedals in downhill and giant slalom plus bronze in super G.
Other men’s alpine medalists on the final day were silver medal-winnersJake Rife (Pocatello, ID; LW-9) and Monte Meier (Hastings, CO; LW-2) andbronze medalist Clay Fox (Gillette, WY; LW-4).
“We started slowly here and then we gained some speed,” Zirbiseggersaid. “Now, we go to Austria for the World Cup Finals next week inWildschoenau near Kitzbuehel and our big pressure is off. These guysand the gals are ready to have some fun, hold onto the Nations Cup…andI think we’ll see some of these athletes – like Bobby McMullen Redding,CA; B-2, who had such a frustrating series of races here – really makesome people pay. So, it should be a fun week of four more races.” TheWildschoenau schedule for World Cup Finals includes SL/GS and two superGs.
In the cross country championships, just over the ridgeline in CransMontana, Balk – whose training has been stymied as he relocated a coupleof times in the last two years because of his job with Boeing – startedat the back of the men’s field and led all the way to win the three-lap,15-km in a time of 49:28.3
In addition, two athletes were medalists for a third time at thechampionships – sit-skier Candace Cable (Truckee, CA; LW-11) in the10-km and Steve Cook (Salt Lake City; LW-4) in the 20-km classic.
“The team skied really well all week,” Kreamelmeyer said. “After thetough Chevy Truck U.S. championships on those hills at Soldier HollowUtah’s 2002 Olympic venue) and then the travel, they really held upwell and skied together. The team really came together…eight medals,what a week! I’m pleased with the way they skied but I’m just so proudof and happy for all of them, too.”