PYEONGCHANG, KOR (March 16, 2018) — Mac Marcoux and guide Jack Leitch were fourth in men’s slalom at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, on a challenging track that eliminated more than a third of the field in the first of two runs. Marcoux and Alex Cairns were the only two Canadians to finish the race. Cairns posted a top-10 finish in what is only his second Paralympic race.
Thirty-five athletes – including four Canadians — did not finish their runs. They were toppled by tough conditions and an icy track that was the result of warm weather followed by heavy rain in the days leading up to the slalom. Many athletes missed or straddled gates, but Marcoux (Sault Ste-Marie, ON) and Cairns (Whistler, BC) were able to stay in the hunt.
Marcoux, who is guided by Leitch (Calgary, AB), was tentative during the first run, which put him in fifth place and 1.65 seconds behind the leader before taking to the track for his second run.
“First run we were probably a little bit tentative. I was a little bit choked with how we skied,” Marcoux lamented. “I knew I had a lot more in the tank. I’m not quite sure what happened. I had a little mental block and I couldn’t let it go.”
In between his first and second runs, Marcoux took a few spins down a nearby training course to loosen up.
“I got some good feelings, and we came out and definitely skied a little harder. We got hung up a little in the middle of the course, but overall I know I’ve never been much of a slalom skier, so I’m stoked to have posted this result.”
Marcoux and Leitch were able to climb one spot to finish fourth in a combined time of one minute, 38.39 seconds.
“I’m happy. We’ve had better results, and we’ve had worse results,” Marcoux said. “I think we skied well and really fought to come back. It wasn’t quite enough but I’m excited about the fourth-place. That’s ski racing.”
Cairns lands in top 10
Sit-skier Cairns was able to hang on to a top-10 result on a track that was particularly unforgiving to the sitting men – 30 racers started, and only 14 finished their runs.
Cairns is racing at his first Paralympics. He also competed in the men’s giant slalom, where he finished 14th. In Friday’s slalom event, he had a combined time of one minute, 56.94 seconds – well off the lead, but competitive in a tough field.
“I played both runs pretty safe to make sure I made it in,” Cairns said. “I almost wish I had of went for it a little more and taken some bigger risks, but overall I’m happy with what I did.”
Other Canadians ski out in first run
Four Canadian men didn’t have the day on the hill they were hoping for. Alexis Guimond (Gatineau, QC), Braydon Luscombe (Duncan, BC), Kurt Oatway (Calgary, AB) and Kirk Schornstein (Spruce Grove, AB) did not finish their first runs.
Oatway, who won a gold medal in the men’s super-G earlier in the Games, was a little late on a turn and wasn’t able to find his edge. A specialist in speed events, Oatway was realistic about his run.
“It’s an icy course and I haven’t done a lot of slalom training this year. We’ve been focused on speed,” he said. “Slalom is a totally different style of racing. In icy conditions like this, you have to be able to really sink your edge in. I just wasn’t there.”
The men’s alpine events are now finished. One day of Paralympic competition remains for the women: slalom on Saturday, March 17.à
The para alpine team has so far won nine medals, including three gold, in PyeongChang.
ALL CANADIAN RESULTS:
Men’s slalom, PyeongChang, South Korea
4 - Mac Marcoux (Sault Ste-Marie, ON) and guide Jack Leitch (Calgary, AB) – Men’s visually impaired
10 – Alex Cairns (Squamish, BC) – Men’s sitting
DNF 1ST run – Alexis Guimond (Gatineau, QC) - Men’s standing
DNF 1ST run – Kirk Schornstein (Spruce Grove, AB) – Men’s standing
DNF 1ST run - Kurt Oatway (Calgary, AB) – Men’s sitting
DNF 1ST run – Braydon Luscombe (Duncan, BC) – Men’s standing