Kiwi Paralympians Head for Nagano 24 Feb 1998


The New Zealand Disabled Ski Team is shaping up well in training competitions, and after intense racing in North America, the team departs for the Winter Paralympics at Nagano, Japan today New Zealand time.

Arriving in Japan early is a great opportunity for the skiers to get used to the different ski conditions, look over the mountain, adjust to the time difference, and have some rest and recuperation before the big event.

The ski team has just finished competing in the Columbia Crest event against over 70 international skiers, including members of the USA Paralympic ski team, the Canadian development squad, and South Africa's first Paralympian, Bruce Warner.

One of New Zealand's big medal hopefuls, Steve Bayley, decided not to race in either of the Super G events at Columbia Crest as he had suffered an injury to his ankle. He decided to rest his injury in order to be fit for Nagano, but still did well in the Giant Slalom and Slalom.

There were outstanding results from blind skier Sue Walker and her guide Dave Gardiner who came first in the Columbia Crest Super G ahead of USA's Theresa Francher and her New Zealand guide JP Wolfendean who failed to finish the course.

The pair also came first in the Slalom and Giant Slalom. Walker and Gardiner are both feeling ready for Japan after consistently skiing well in the USA.

Good results from the men's camp saw Mathew Butson come in third and Kevin O'Sullivan sixth in the Men's stand-up Super G.

Butson said of the Super G, "When I came through the finish line I thought I had a good run, a couple of the USA guys had better runs and beat me, but I'm happy with my results."

Butson also came third in the Giant Slalom and first in his class ranking.

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