Dynamic duo of 'Mac and Jack' start strong at Paralympics
Families of gold-winning skier Marcoux, guide Leitch finally meet
Mac Marcoux and Jack Leitch wouldn't admit it before their first race at the Paralympics, but they were ready to talk about it after their golden downhill performance.
They were both nervous. The great expectations they put on themselves for the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, were weighing heavy on them.
When Marcoux and Leitch came screaming down the hill and stopped the clock at a time of one minute, 23.93 seconds to capture gold in the men's visually impaired downhill race, all that pressure was gone.
"Right away we felt the weight coming off our shoulders a little bit and it lightened things up for the rest of the week," said Marcoux, a 20-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. "It feels unbelievable. I'm kind of numb right now as it sets in."
Marcoux was competing in his first Paralympics four years ago in Sochi. He won bronze in this same event with a different guide, Robin Femy. For the last two years he's been skiing with Leitch, and the two have been on a tear.
For as much success as they've had, Leitch was feeling the heat at the starting gate in his first race at the big event.
"I usually don't get too nervous but today I was nervous at the start of this one," the Calgarian said. "My first Paralympic event and getting the gold with this guy is awesome."
The duo was nearly flawless as they carved through the snow in the sun-kissed South Korean mountains. They've learned to trust one another in high-pressure moments, and that trust was on clear display at the Games.
As guide, Leitch shoots out in front of Marcoux and provides valuable information about the course through a two-way helmet radio headset.
"I was calling out the usual cues today but there was probably a little more encouragement than in the past. It's a big event so I wanted to keep us going," Leitch said.
It's only the beginning for these two who are competing in all five para alpine events.
"We're going to come in every day feeling strong and see where we end up. I think we're in a good place," Marcoux said.
Families meet for 1st time
At the bottom of the course watching anxiously and cheering wildly were the families and friends of Mac and Jack.
Parents Lee and Bill Marcoux were side-by-side with Pat and Bob Leitch draped in Canadian gear ready to hug their sons as they made their way through the media. They were all there together in this golden moment — just a day earlier they were meeting for the first time.
"Jack's been around for two seasons now but we haven't been able to meet," Lee said. "Just seeing the way Mac and Jack blend together, we knew as parents we would gel. We even enjoy the same wine."
Mac Marcoux’s family and Jack Leitch’s family met for the first time ever yesterday.<br><br>Today their sons captured gold together in the men’s visually impaired downhill event. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Paralympics?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Paralympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/r7WvsoIgPU">pic.twitter.com/r7WvsoIgPU</a>—@Devin_Heroux
While Lee and Bill have experienced the thrill of gold watching Mac compete four years ago in Sochi, this was a first for Pat and Bob. The two were bursting with pride after the race.
"They're a great team together. This doesn't happen without being a team and having that trust and respect. And they're great friends. They've earned this," Bob said.
Jack's mom, Pat, was basking in the moment.
"We've gotten to know Mac a little bit over the last year and a half and he is such a great young man. We knew his parents were amazing people to raise such a wonderful guy."
As for Bill, he was going through all the emotions during and after the race — then celebrated with everyone.
"That was awesome. That was breathtaking. It's what we came here for. I was very nervous," he said. "It's almost like we've always known each other. It's been fantastic. They're a good match."