“The track we are racing in slalom is probably the most difficult slope our circuit has ever raced on."
Alpine Canada Alpin announced the names of twelve athletes who will represent Canada in their own back garden at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, which begin in Panorama with downhill races on 4 March.
Mac Marcoux, one of the world’s best para-alpine skiers, is looking to add some more hardware to his illustrious season thus far.
Marcoux followed up his three-medal performance at last winter’s Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, by winning the crystal globe this year as the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup overall champion in the men’s visually impaired. Now the visually impaired skier from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., hopes to add a World Championships title to his resume while performing on home soil.
The 17-year-old will be a medal favourite when competition at Panorama 2015 begins on Wednesday (4 March), through to 10 March.
“Just being at home in such a prestigious event brings up the drive just a little bit more to ski a little bit harder,” said Marcoux, who will be guided at the Championships by his older brother BJ.
“It’s going to be really cool. We don’t really have an opportunity to compete often in Canada. I’m really excited to have a race on home snow. It brings a good feel.”
The World Championships have attracted over 100 athletes from 23 countries. It is the first time the event has been held in North America.
Not only are the World Championships on home soil, but the Canadian para-alpine ski team also calls Panorama home as this is where the squad regularly holds training camps.
“We are familiar with Panorama, we are used to the environment,” said head coach Jean-Sebastien Labrie. “We’ve trained many days on the hill we will race.”
“For sure it’s an advantage. It gives us more confidence. We have trained, we know the hill, and we know the terrain.”
Athletes will compete in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined. Labrie believes the Canadian team can claim five podiums, with Marcoux a threat in all the disciplines.
“He’s our main potential medallist,” said Labrie.
“Compared to last year, he’s got one more year of experience under his belt. He’s learning a lot every race. He used to struggle with slalom. Now he has had a very good season of slalom. He’s a favourite for every event we go into.”
Among the other Canadian hopefuls are: Matt Hallat of Squamish, B.C., and Braydon Luscombe of Duncan, B.C., in the men’s slalom standing.
“They know the hill,” said Labrie. “It’s a very competitive field in the men’s slalom races. It’s difficult to get in the top five. I think these guys have a shot at it.”
Kurt Oatway of Calgary also has a chance at a medal in the men’s downhill sitting.
On the women’s side, established sit-skier Kimberly Joines of Rossland, B.C., is a favourite in the slalom.
“The track we are racing in slalom is probably the most difficult slope our circuit has ever raced on,” said Joines, a two-time world champion. “It’s definitely a challenge.
“We are more familiar with the slope and have spent more time on it. Hopefully that gives us a little bit of an advantage and the confidence going into it. It’s one of those pitches that sometimes looks a little more intimidating than it actually is.”
The 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships will be streamed live at Panorama2015.com and live results will also be available.
Full Canadian team:
Athlete, Home Town, Province
Alex Cairns, Squamish, BC
Robin Femy (alternate guide), Mont-Tremblant, QC
Matt Hallat, Coquitlam, BC
Bradyon Luscombe, Duncan, BC
BJ Marcoux (guide), Sault-Ste Marie, ON
Mac Marcoux, Sault-Ste Marie, ON
Kurt Oatway, Calgary, AB
Kirk Schornstein, Spruce Grove, AB
Jeff Thompson, Vancouver, BC
Kimberly Joines, Rossland, BC
Erin Latimer, Toronto, ON
Alana Ramsay, Calgary, AB