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Slalom with a twist

Shauna Farnell
Preston Utley/Vail Daily Carl Burnett, 23, takes a gate during his bronze medal slalom race Sunday. Slalom racing concluded the U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships at Golden Peak in Vail.
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VAIL – Stephani Victor threw some freestyle moves into her slalom race Sunday, but not on purpose.”I have to remind myself that you don’t get extra points for doing 360s,” said Victor, who was the champion female sit-skier Sunday during the final race of the U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships at Golden Peak in Vail. Victor, who lost both her legs in 1995 when an out-of-control car swerved and pinned her against another car she was standing behind, was shaping up to be “the silver medal girl.” She took second in last week’s downhill, super-G and giant slalom races. In slalom however, she edged out U.S. Ski Team member and DH, SG and GS champ Laurie Stephens for the gold, but not before she caught the tip of her mono-ski while taking a gate, did a complete spin, found herself facing downhill again, and went on to win the race.”It was beautifully orchestrated,” she said. “I spun directly between the two gates and didn’t miss a thing. It’s been a battle all week to beat Laurie.”Victor finished with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 46.92 seconds, Stephens, who missed a gate and had to return uphill to catch it, took silver in 1:56.81, and Luba Lowery rounded out the podium in 2:15.30.

After a crash in Saturday’s GS he claimed was his worst all season, U.S. Ski Team veteran Christopher Devlin-Young came back to win the men’s sit-ski event with a time of 1:32.01.”It was a good day,” said Devlin-Young, who won last week’s downhill and super-G before crashing in GS. “That fall (Saturday) was the worst I’ve had. I have a classic tipping mistake that really got me. I was upset, but it lasted about 10 minutes. The urge to go home and cry in my soup was less than my urge to be a good sport.”Devlin-Young, who is a two-time Paralympic and World Championships gold medalist, was paralyzed from the knees down in a plane crash 23 years ago. Besides becoming a ski racer since the accident, he has dabbled in extreme skiing in Crested Butte, builds wheelchair-access furniture in the off season, and has launched his own disabled ski team.Saturday’s giant slalom champ Tyler Walker wasn’t close behind Sunday, taking silver with a time of 1:34.70. Carl Burnett landed bronze in 1:37.81.Monte Meier, who has skied with the U.S. Disabled Team for 14 years and finished second in this year’s World Cup slalom standings and fifth overall, made a U.S. Championships comeback Sunday, winning the men’s standing skier race with a time of 1:36.05.

“Slalom is my stronghold,” Meier said. “You get so tired after a long week of racing. I had to dig deep, but I found a little something in there.”Meier, who lost his leg in a garden-tilling accident when he was 8 years old, DNFed in Saturday’s GS, took sixth in super-G and fourth in downhill. John Whitney was a close second in 1:36.69, and Clay Fox took bronze in 1:37.35.German racer Reinhild Moller, who won Saturday’s GS and has won 15 Paralympic gold medals in her career, took gold again Sunday in the female standing skier category, finishing with a time of 1:49.84. U.S. Team racer Sandy Dukat was second in 1:50.96 and Elitsa Storey third in 1:53.31.”I was glad to finish so close to Reini,” said Dukat, who just started skiing in 1998 and who currently resides in Vail. “I feel good finishing this way because now, everything is looking towards the Paralympics.”

Dukat made a clean sweep of silver medals in all four Championship races. The event marked the first time she’s been competitive since a concussion ended her World Cup season earlier than planned last month.”I’m retiring after next year’s Paralympics, so yeah … I’m really trying to enjoy everything right now,” she said.The U.S. Disabled Team will select three or four new members later this week, partially based upon results from the past four races.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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