Frisco’s Mike Minor captures gold in para snowboard competition in Canada; Silverthorne’s Zach Miller notches two top 5-finishes
There is no better early Christmas present for an athlete than placing well at a World Cup competition.
On Tuesday, Dec. 20, Frisco’s two-time Paralympian Mike Minor took gold in men’s upper limb impairment 2 banked slalom para snowboard competition at Big White Ski Resort in Canada.
Minor — who won gold and bronze at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang — put his experience on full display for the three-day competition in Canada. Minor was joined by fellow Summit locals and Adaptive Actions Sports teammates Zach Miller and 2022 Paralympic Games silver medalist Garrett Geros.
Upon arriving at the venue, competitors were faced with a unique problem: lack of snow.
“We didn’t have a whole lot to work with, and it was a bit of a challenge to put the course together,” Miller said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of snow in that park area that was available, but our course builder did a great job at building us this course with over 20 turns.
The course proved to be one of the most unique courses on the para snowboard world cup circuit because of the twisty turns and length of the course.
“It was interesting,” Miller said. “When we got eyes on it the question became, ‘Who is going to ride this the best?’ Generally they are a bit shorter. It was a lot longer than we are used to, which mixed things up a bit as there were more opportunities to make mistakes.”
Over the course of the competition, Miller and Minor both were able to find their groove on the lengthy course.
On Monday, Dec. 19, Minor recorded runs of 1 minute, 29.08 seconds and 1:28.12. Minor’s latter run was enough for him to secure a second-place finish, behind France’s Maxime Montaggioni with a top run time of 1:27.92.
On the second day of competition, Minor cleaned up his approach to improve upon his placing from the day before. Crossing the finish line with a top run time of 1:29.08, Minor concluded the competition with a second- and first-place finish.
“I was super pleased with my win in Canada because the conditions weren’t the best that day,” Minor said. ”It was really snowy and really not favoring my normal riding style. It was nice to come out with a ‘W’ on that day and see my effort come to fruition.”
In his gold-medal performance, Minor finished in front of Great Britain’s James Barnes-Miller in second and Montaggioni in third.
Minor is off to a great start to the season. After two competitions, Minor has three podium finishes, two in Canada and a third-place finish in the Netherlands back in November.
“The early-season contest wins and podium placements have been awesome,” Minor said. “It is a good solidifier that I am off to a great start for my season.”
Miller also had several successful runs at Big White Ski Resort.
On the first day of competition, Miller recorded runs of 1:29.13 and 1:28.49 in the men’s lower limb 2 impairment 2 banked slalom. Miller’s second run earned him fifth place on the day behind Great Britain’s Ollie Hill and America’s Evan Strong.
Like Minor, Miller found a way to clean up his runs and power through the challenging, flatter sections of the course.
“There was this long, flat middle section where all the boys with more weight were carrying more momentum,” Miller said. “My focus for the trip was to make good choices on my line and run it as clean as possible to conserve all of my speed.”
Miller did a fantastic job at seeing his plan through for the second banked slalom final of the week. Miller finished the course in 1:29.81 and 1:29.72 to miss out on third place by 3/10 of a second to Strong.
Despite missing the podium, Miller was beyond pleased with how he finished in Canada.
“To be coming out of this competition with two top-five finishes, I am proud of myself,” Miller said. “Canada is actually one of my favorite venues on the international circuit.”
Geros wasn’t able to notch a top-five finish in Canada, but he placed eighth and ninth overall in the men’s lower limb 2 impairment 2 banked slalom competition.
Minor, Miller and Geros will now take a break for the holidays before preparing for the Para Snowboard World Championships in Spain. In Spain, Miller will look to defend this world championship gold medal, which he captured last winter.
“My next focus is to keep that momentum moving — staying on snow, staying in the gym, trying to maintain it in order to get some really good results in Spain,” Miller said. ”I will be defending my world title there.”
Minor and Geros will compete again in Pyhatunturi, Finland, from Jan. 12-14. The Para Snowboard World Championships will take place in La Molina, Spain, from Jan. 21-29.
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