Zealand Disabled Ski Team looks set to beat
the world at the upcoming Winter Paralympics
in Nagano, if the results from the
Breckenridge World Cup Finals in Colorado
are anything to go by.
The New Zealanders
have just finished two days of downhill
training alongside teams from Australia,
Austria, Canada, the Netherlands, South
Africa, Slovakia, Great Britain, Germany,
Sweden, and the USA. Over one hundred skiers
are competing at the event, with many going
on to Nagano, next month.
In the Men's Stand-up downhill, there
were some great results from New Zealand
despite temperatures below minus five
degrees. Southlander, Mathew Butson (LW9)
came first overall beating American Greg
Mannino and Australian James Paterson, while
Cantabrian Steven Bayley came seventh
Divided into their race classes, Mathew
Butson (LW9) came first with a time of
1.22.08 followed by Australian James
Paterson and Paralympic gold medallist
Austrian Arno Hirschbuhl. Butson will have
to beat these two top contenders again in
Nagano to take the gold.
Steve Bayley came first in the LW4 class
with a time of 1.21.75, followed closely by
Austrian Hubert Mandl and American Paul
Martin. In the combined LW1 and LW3 class,
Cantabrian, Kevin O'Sullivan gained third
place just behind Slovak Josef Mistina and
American Jacob Rife who will be his rivals
in Japan, as well.
In the Women's competitions, Aucklander
Sue Walker won the blind section Giant
Slalom against Americans Theresa Fancher and
Klaudia Birkner, while Cantabrian Rachael
Battersby came fourth in her class (LW6).
Walker also came second in the slalom and
The New Zealand team will travel to the
Columbia Crest to train for two weeks before
they head to Nagano on February 23.