Zeitung Heute : Golden Woolstencroft

Lauren Woolstencroft wins Canada’s first gold medal. Her teammate and opponent Karolina Wisniewska finishes on third place in the alpine slalom standing event – By Florence Ng

The alpine skiing slalom competition rescheduled to March 15th, saw sunny weather and fresh snow on the hills. For Canada, the 2010 para-alpine team has been assembled to be the best yet and proved right. Including gold medal winners, Lauren Woolstencroft and bronze winner Karolina Wisniewska. The women´s standing team consisted of 3 more racers: Arly Fogarty, Melanie Schwartz, Andrea Dziewior.

Andrea Dziewior was the first Canadian on the slopes and started out strong. When she crashed at the third gate to the finish line, there was almost a disbelieving gasp in the atmosphere. Sensing her position on the standings, she crossed the finish line with her head down and collapsed a few metres away, sitting down in the snow for a few minutes. Arly Fogarty was one athlete who almost achieved a great time as well. She may not be the strongest, but devastatingly, she tripped on one of the last gates, slowing her down considerably more. Also skiing for Canada, Melanie Schwartz who finished with a decent time. For Karolina Wisniewska, it was a different story. The fog had come down just a little before her turn. Numbered eighth on the start list, she began her run powerfully and finished strong. Two runs later, Slovakia''s Petra Smarzova outranked her and moved her to second. She held her position precariously, and eventually ended the first run in 4th. On her performance, she said, "I think it was pretty good. The top was awesome. I charged it. I would have liked the bottom to have been a little bit better." In Salt Lake City, she won a medal in each alpine discipline but none of which were gold. This time, she said, "I think in my previous two Paralympics, I focused a lot on getting Gold. Now I''m just here having fun. Of course if I get gold, I''m not going to complain." After Wisniewska came Canada''s favourite: Lauren Woolstencroft. Swift as the wind, she flew down the course, completely throwing the competition out of the loop. No wonder she received the loudest cheers of all. She ranked first for the first run with a three second gap behind her.

For the men''s slalom, everyone had their sights on Matt Hallat, the Canadian champion at his very first Paralympic Games. Unfortunately for Canada, New Zealand''s Adam Hall, a young favourite for gold, was also in the competition. Matt Hallat and Kirk Schornstein, the only two Canadians on the alpine team ran smoothly, but were only mediocre against the other 69 athletes.

The fog came down and lifted just after the men''s slalom during the break before medal runs. Schwartz was first to go, and made yet another careful run. Perhaps due to her ski-instruction background, she puts caution before speed. For this, she suffered greatly, standing in last for the majority of the second run. Karolina Wisniewska started a bit slow, but she was advantaged by the first run. She crossed the finish line and came up first. The entire audience on the bleachers cheered and stamped in a cacophony of horn-blowing, applause, stamping, and screaming. However, Germany''s Andrea Rothfuss took her place in a temporary first soon after. When it was Slovakia''s Smarzova''s turn, the crowd was beginning to doubt whether or now Wisniewska will hold her place in the top three. There seemed to be almost no hope for Wisniewska until Petra Smarzova missed a gate and was disqualified. It was a harsh loss, missing by mere centimetres, but fortunately secured Karolina Wisniewska''s bronze medal. Lauren Woolstencroft, who was initially going to retire before Torino, performed a gold-medal run not easily forgotten. The crowds went crazy as soon as her name showed up on the list. By the first stretch she was already five seconds faster than the leading skier, and finished the race with a difference of almost seven seconds. The noise got everyone''s heart pumping. Even then, she was so focused that she "didn''t hear anything".

In the final men''s run, Matt Hallat and Kirk Schornstein, once again ended up at the bottom. Matt Hallat fell twice and pushed him back to an overall last for a long time. Even then, the fans in the audience cheered for him as if he already won gold. The reality is that neither could compare to the gold medallist Adam Hall. Hall stumbled and fell once, but still won his gold by mere milliseconds.

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