Marcoux overcomes radio malfunction with sheer determination
SOCHI, RUS. (March 9, 2014) - Visually impaired skier Mac Marcoux, guided by Robin Fémy, gave a whole new meaning to skiing blind by earning his second bronze medal of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games on Sunday in men's super-G despite not being able to communicate with his guide, while teammate Caleb Brousseau won bronze in the sitting category - the first Paralympic medal of his career.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.'s Marcoux, who kicked off Canada's medal count in Sochi with a bronze in men's downhill on Saturday, was ready to push out of the start gate when he realized his radio headset - on which he relies to communicate with guide Fémy - had stopped working. With no central vision and only six per cent peripheral vision, Marcoux attempted to hear cues from Fémy, sking ahead, who tried his best to shout instructions.
Unable to hear Fémy while travelling at more than 100 kilometres per hour, Marcoux, 16, demonstrated incredible composure and pushed through his run using instinct and what little vision he has to earn bronze. Marcoux was just 19-hundredths of a second off of the gold medal position.
"When I realized what happened with the radios it was a little bit scary, but I got it together and just did the best I could in the situation," said Marcoux, who finished with a time of one minute, 20.77 seconds. "I'm super happy it worked out. Bronze like this? I can't believe it."
Fémy said he felt an extra sense of responsibility when the radios stopped working.
"I've never yelled so hard in my life," he said. "We had to stay as tight as we could and just have the best run possible. We train for this kind of thing, but for Mac to keep his composure and ski to bronze in this situation is incredible. I'm so impressed."
With less than two-tenths of a second separating the gold and bronze medal winners in super-G, Marcoux said he feels hungrier than ever to go for gold in his three remaining events and hear the Canadian anthem play.
"It's a little bittersweet knowing I was so close, but it makes me feel ready to give 'er in the next races," he said.
Slovakia's Jakub Krako won the men's visually impaired division (1:20.58), while Mark Bathum of the United States claimed silver (1:20.71).
Caleb Brousseau, of Terrace, B.C., also earned bronze (1:22.05), realizing a Paralympic dream that was sparked by watching the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics.
"My mind is just blown right now," he said after the race. "My heart is hardly staying inside of my chest cavity. This is absolutely amazing and I'm stoked to have ramped things up this hard. I can't wait to step on the podium."
Brousseau, who was the ninth racer out of the gate in the sitting category, faced a nerve-wracking wait in the leader box as he watched more than two-thirds of the field try unsuccessfully to reach the podium.
"I'm amazed that I still have skin on my fingers! I was so nervous watching everyone coming down," he said of winning his first Paralympic medal. "This result makes me feel really good about my skiing. I think it really sets me up to push things even further. There's so much our team can do on this hill."
Josh Dueck, of Kimberley, B.C., who won silver in Saturday's men's downhill, was poised for gold for the second day in a row when a lightening-fast run ended with a heart-wrenching crash at the final gate. Dueck posted split times equal to the gold medal finisher Akira Kano of Japan (1:19.51), but he caught an edge just before the finish line.
"It was actually fantastic," said Dueck of his skiing. "I was one turn away from having a great run. You've got to be happy with that. Right now I'm really happy for our team.
"Obviously I left something behind on the hill today, and I'd like to find it," he added of getting ready to race super combined on Tuesday. "Heck yes, I'm ready."
The silver medal in the men's sitting category went to Taiki Morii of Japan (1:21.60).
Calgary, Alta.'s Kurt Oatway was ninth in the men's sitting division with a time of 1:29.10, and Kirk Schornstein, of Spruce Grove, Alta. Was 13th in the men's standing category (1:27.83). Standing skiers Matt Hallat, from Coquitlam, B.C., and Braydon Luscombe, of Duncan, B.C., did not finish their runs.
Next up is Monday's women's super-G, which will feature standing skiers Alexandra Starker and Alana Ramsay, both of Calgary, Alta., and Erin Latimer, from Etobicoke, Ont.
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For full information about Team Canada at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, please visitparalympic.ca/team-canada.
Media attaché, para-alpine
SOCHI cell: 011-7-938-454-3196
Press Chief and para-snowboard media attaché
SOCHI Cell: 011-7-938-454-3162