Adaptive Action Sport snowboarders face tough conditions in Paralympic banked slalom finals
The conditions at the snowboard banked slalom finals at the Paralympic Winter Games were less than ideal, but athletes from Summit County-based pro group, Adaptive Action Sports, performed to the best of their ability.
The banked slalom finals were originally slated for Saturday, March 12, but rain in the forecast in Beijing moved the competition to Thursday, March 10.
In the men’s Lower Limb 2 classification, Evan Strong got off to a fast start as he crossed the finish line in a time of 1 minute, 10.74 seconds, placing fifth after the first round of runs.
Silverthorne’s Zach Miller, who raced on his 23rd birthday, also competed in the Lower Limb 2 classification and finished his first run with some work to do as he crossed the finish line in 1:14.17, ranking 14th after the first round.
Strong was aggressive on his second run, which led to some wobbles near the top of the course. He finished in fifth place and was not able to improve his time.
Miller slightly improved his time on his second run by a few fractions of a second to 1:14.11. Miller’s performance was not enough to move him up in the rankings, and he placed 15th overall.
In the men’s upper limb classification, Frisco’s Mike Minor looked to defend the gold medal he won in Pyeongchang in 2018.
In the two-run final, Minor completed the banked slalom course in a time of 1:12.16 to be ranked seventh after the completion of the first round.
On Minor’s second run, he had to make up close to two seconds if he wanted a chance at the podium. Minor took too many high lines on the banked slalom walls and looked to have trouble carving an edge into the quickly deteriorating course, which slowed his speed significantly on his final run.
Minor slightly improved his time from his first run to 1:12.15, but it was not enough to break onto the podium. Minor placed eighth.
“The course was not favorable to our riders necessarily,” said Daniel Gale, executive director of Adaptive Action Sports. “It’s really difficult conditions over there, and I think the Chinese team has a little bit of an advantage as they can train in those conditions all the time.”
In the four disability classifications, Team China won six out of the 12 medals available.
“We are used to being able to hold an edge in different temperatures,” Gale said. “That being said, I am really proud of the crew. They did a great job.”
Other Adaptive Action Sports members Garrett Geros and Katy Maddry did not compete in the banked slalom race.
The recent silver medalist in snowboard cross, Geros, did not qualify for the banked slalom while Maddry did not start for undisclosed reasons.
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