(ISN) – PANORAMA, B.C. – Three-time Paralympian Matt Hallat, of Squamish, BC won a hard-fought bronze medal at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, B.C. today, earning his first ever world championship medal on the very last day of his 13-year national team career.
Hallat, who is now retiring, claimed the bronze in the men’s Slalom, standing category, finishing in 1.47.86, behind first place Alexey Bugaev from Russia (1.39.05). Second place went to Alexander Alyabyev of Russia in 1.46.15.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet. I couldn’t have waited any longer,” joked Hallat who has been on the Canadian Para Alpine team since 2002. “I have been here many, many times. It’s amazing, I am still shaking. I know what I needed to do and that was the plan in the start gate. This will take a while to sink in.”
Hallat, a leg amputee, started Tuesday’s Slalom (standing) race off with a very strong first run.
“The nature of the pitch will throw you around and you are going to have to really fight for it,” explained Hallat. “I have skied here enough to know that. I did make a mistake but it was in a good spot and allowed me to carry my speed and maybe even pushed me a little bit to carry me through the flat. I did my best to keep it going right to the finish.”
This win for Hallat couldn’t come at a better time, as he has made the decision to retire at the end of this season. Hallat is ending his skiing career on a high note.
“It’s amazing! For us this bronze feels like a gold because of Matt’s dedication and effort as well as the effort of the entire team. We have put so much into this season,” said the Head Coach of the Canadian Para Alpine team Jean-Sébastien Labrie (Plessisville, Que.). “This victory for us is very cool. To finish on this note, especially for Matt, he has worked so hard for this. We couldn’t be happier.”
In the men’s standing category, two-time Paralympian Kirk Schornstein of Edmonton, AB posted a career best fifth place (1:51.48). Braydon Luscombe of Duncan, BC DNF’d the first run.
In women’s standing, Erin Latimer of Toronto, ON attacked the 1st run with confidence, finishing with the combined time of 2:13.11 claiming sixth place. Calgary’s Alana Ramsay showed consistent turns during the 1st run, however after review she was disqualified due to missing a gate.
In women’s sitting, Kimberley Joines of Rossland B.C., the Slalom bronze medalist at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games and three-time bronze medallist in the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, put down great first tracks but got caught on one of the top gates and DNF’d on the 1st run.
In men’s sitting, Kurt Oatway of Calgary, AB successfully competed the first pitch, looking strong in the lower half of the course, but caught an edge a few gates away from the finish line and DNF’d the 1st run.
Two members of the Canadian prospect para-alpine team made their debuts on the International scene at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships: Alex Cairns of Squamish, BC and Jeff Thompson of Vancouver, BC. Thompson DNF’d the 1st run, while Cairns had a strong run but was later disqualified for missing a gate.
The upper pitch of Tuesday’s Slalom track was not forgiving. Skiers needed to ski hard and interrupt the terrain. 43 racers did not move on to the second run.
For the past 11 days, Panorama Mountain Resort has been filled with 120 volunteers and 115 elite para-athletes from 23 countries for the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships.
The event was the biggest gathering of para-alpine skiers since the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Alpine Canada Alpin and the Race Organizing Committee are incredibly proud to have brought such an elite competition to North America for the first time.
Tuesday evening will mark the official closing of the 2015 IPC World Championships in Panorama. After the awards presentation, the IPC flag will be lowered and a choreographed pyro-musical fireworks display by GlobalFest will mark the conclusion of the event.
Alpine Canada Alpin would like to thank the generous partners of the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships: Sport Canada and the Government of Canada, and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and the Columbia Basin Trust. We would also like to thank Panorama Mountain Resort for their generous support as the host venue for this event and the incredible race organizing committee for putting on a tremendous World Championships on home soil.