Vail’s Thomas Walsh wins giant slalom silver medal at Paralympic Games
Finish is first career Paralympic podium for 27-year-old Vail skier
In his second Paralympic Games, Vail’s Thomas Walsh claimed Team USA’s first para Alpine medal in the giant slalom standing event Thursday at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing.
“I think a lot of the stars aligned for today to be possible,” Walsh told GreatRange’s Mike Pesarchick after the event. “I know I’ve always been able to do it, but this is the first time that I woke up confident knowing I could do it.”
Wearing lucky bib no. 13 and running first out of the gates, the 27-year-old cancer survivor posted the top time in the first of two runs. The intense Beijing sun altered the snow conditions by the time he clocked a fifth-best 57.84-second final run.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be the fastest run as the snow conditions were a little rough. I kind of shook my head, but I got to the bottom and tried to pipe the last three turns,” he told TeamUSA.org reporter Stuart Lieberman of his second attempt.
His total time of 1:55.44 was just 0.04 seconds behind Finland’s Santeri Kiiveri’s gold-medal winning performance.
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“Maybe I should have had another sip of water to get a little more weight for those four hundredths, but I did it and made it down,” Walsh said.
Owner of two world championship bronze medals, the Vail resident had never reached the podium in his five previous Paralympic races. Three days ago, he placed fourth in the super combined, his highest finish until Thursday.
“I am so happy for silver, 0.04 (seconds) behind, that’s a race and I’m hungry for more. I know all I can do is give it all I have every single run and if I do that, I have a chance to to be up there (on the podium),” he told Pesarchick.
The monumental accomplishment did little to alter the young athlete’s perspective on his journey.
“At the end of the day it’s just a piece of metal,” he told TeamUSA.org.
“It’s about the experiences and the friendships and memories that I’ve made in my career as a skier, as well as for all the coaches and ski instructors, and most importantly, my mom. Being at the Paralympics is a huge deal and I’m really happy to get this medal to say I did it, but this doesn’t change what I do and why I do it.”