Anna Schaffelhuber completes quest for five golds

For the second straight Winter Paralympics, a female skier won five alpine golds. 16 Mar 2014
Anna Schaffelhuber

Germany's Anna Schaffelhuber celebrates her fifth gold medal at Sochi 2014, having won the women's giant slalom sitting event on the final day of the Games.

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By Justin A. Rice | For the IPC

"I knew that I could reach gold in every discipline, but I have never believed that I would do that."

Anna Schaffelhuber won her fifth title in the final women’s sit-ski event on the closing day of the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics on Sunday (16 March) at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.

The German sit skier won the women’s giant slalom sitting class with a combined time of 2:51.26 to become the second straight woman to sweep all five alpine events at the Paralympics.

Canadian Lauren Woolstencroft won five gold medals on her home soil in Vancouver four years ago in the standing class.

"I knew that I could reach gold in every discipline, but I have never believed that I would do that," Schaffelhuber said.

Schaffelhuber — who was second at the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain, in the giant slalom — also won gold in downhill, super G, slalom and super combined in the women's sitting class in Sochi. She won the slalom after originally being disqualified in the first run of the event only to have that ruling overturn.

"The highlight is not the five gold medals, the highlight is staying together with the whole team after the whole disqualification,” she said. “I felt we are a team and everyone is working for everyone.

"It's amazing, I can't believe it. I'm looking forward to the dream becoming reality because until now I haven't realised it."

Austria’s Claudia Loesch, who is the reigning world champion in the event, finished in second place with a time of 2:55.91 while Schaffelhuber’s teammate Anna-Lena Forster won bronze in 2:59.33.

After Sunday’s first run, Schaffelhuber sat in second with a time of 1:31.60 behind Canadian Kimberly Joines (1:30.44). The USA’s Alana Nichols (133.49) was third after the first run five days after crashing in the super-G and receiving medical treatment.

"I feel so fortunate to leave the hospital with no broken bones, just a few stitches on my chin,” Nichols (3:00.24), who finished fourth despite doing a full spin on her second run, said after her first run. “But that's part of life."

Coming into Sochi skiing speculators predicted it would be France’s world champion, Marie Bochet, going for five golds since she swept all five events at last year’s World Championships.

The 20-year-old stumbled in Wednesday’s slalom but still managed to win her fourth gold on Sunday by clocking a combined time of 2:38.84 in the giant slalom standing class.

"I'm happy I had the chance to live all this,” she said. “But I'm also happy that this has come to an end because it has been an exhausting experience. I'm happy for all the medals I have won."

Bochet’s rival, Andrea Rothfuss of Germany, who won silver in the event four years ago in Vancouver, finished second with a time of 2:39.70.

After Rothfuss dropped a tough time of 1:14.34 in her second run and after Bochet stumbled a bit midcourse but still managed to hang on for a time of 1:13.86 in her second run.

"On the steep portion after the jump, I thought I was going to ski off,” she said. “I was really scared. It reminds me of the slalom. The second run has been tricky to the last gate. I didn't have a big advantage over Andrea.”

Bochet’s teammate, Solene Jambaque, was third with a time of 2:46.81.

In the women’s giant slalom visually impaired class, Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova (2:48.63) beat Russia’s Aleksandra Frantceva (2:54.91), while Australia’s Jessica Gallagher (3:02.11) was third.

Going into Sunday’s final day of competition, Frantceva had already won gold in slalom and super-combined, along with silver in super-G and bronze in downhill. She also won the giant slalom at the World Championships and the gold medal in Vancouver for years ago.