Mac Marcoux, the youngest member of the Canadian Paralympic team has struck gold in Sochi in his final alpine event, winning the men’s visually impaired giant slalom on Saturday by more than two seconds.
“This is a dream come true,” Marcoux said. “It is so surreal, I was nervous at the top. I tried to relax and forget about everything, listen to music, because when you think too much it can mess with your head.
"It is the best moment of my life. I can't even explain how amazing this is."
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The 16-year-old Marcoux, with guide Robin Fémy leading the way, laid down an extremely fast and clean first run to jump out to a whopping lead of 2.39 seconds heading into the final phase.
Marcoux narrowly avoided disaster in his second run, almost crashing after hitting a rut, but somehow managed to recover his balance and kept his lead intact, finishing in a two-run combined time of 2:29.62.
"About halfway down it got a little rough and I almost lost it on the second pitch,” Marcoux said. “I had to pull it back together."
Nobody could catch Marcoux on Saturday. Not Slovakian Jakub Krako, the Paralympic super-G gold medallist, who ended up 2.04 seconds behind for silver. Not Russian Valerii Redkozubov, who took gold in the slalom and super combined in Sochi. He won bronze, 3.95 seconds behind Marcoux.
Toronto’s Chris Williamson was close to the podium as well, finishing in fifth place, but he was well back of the bronze, four seconds behind Redkozubov after both runs were completed.
Course conditions at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center weren’t as nearly as bad early on Saturday as they had been for the first half of the Games, when warm temperatures and sometimes torrential rain and snow made navigation a nightmare. But the course did show its wear during the second set of runs with so many skiers heading down the slopes, with more and more ruts becoming apparent as the day wore on.
The 16-year-old Marcoux of Sault Ste Marie, Ont., won bronze in both the downhill and super-G events earlier on in the Games, the latter of which he earned while dealing with major radio communication issues between he and guide Fémy.
Marcoux’s gold gives the Canadian Paralympic Committee a lot to think about when it comes to selecting the flag-bearer at Sunday’s closing ceremony.
He has to be among the front-runners for the honour along with the indomitable Brian McKeever and the timeless Colette Bourgonje, and what may work in Marcoux’s favour is that the other two have already carried the closing ceremony flag at prior Paralympics.
Canadian sit-skiers crash out
The news was not nearly as good for the Canadian sit-skiers, as all three crashed on their first runs of the sitting classification. Josh Dueck, Caleb Brousseau, and Kurt Oatway all had minor crashes on their first runs of the giant slalom sitting category, and won’t get a shot at one more medal in Sochi.
Dueck, of Kimberley, B.C., won gold on Friday in the super combined to go along with his silver in the downhill. Brousseau, of Terrace, B.C., took bronze in the super-G. Oatway, of Calgary, was close to a medal in the super-G, but crashed on his run.
Christoph Kunz of Switzerland won gold in the category, finishing 0.47 seconds ahead of surprise silver-medallist Corey Peters of New Zealand. Austria’s Roman Rabl took the bronze.
In the standing category, Vincent Gauthier-Manuel of France won the gold by a two-second margin over Alexey Bugaev of Russia. Markus Salcher of Austria took bronze. Kirk Schornstein of Spruce Grove, Alta., was 13th.
(With files from the Paralympic News Service)