The diverse roster of athletes represents a strong combination of accomplished veterans and a talented pool of young up-and-comers looking to make their mark at their first Paralympic Games, March 7 to 16 in Sochi, Russia.
The group has collectively racked up nearly 200 World Cup podiums and claimed 14 medals at the 2013 world championships – more than any other country in attendance.
The nominated Canadian contingent includes previous Paralympic Games competitors Josh Dueck (Kimberley, B.C.), Chris Williamson (Toronto, Ont. guided by Robin Fémy of Mont-Tremblant, Que.), Kimberly Joines (Rossland, B.C.), Matt Hallat (Coquitlam, B.C.) and Kirk Schornstein (Spruce Grove, Alta.) – an experienced group that has won five Paralympic medals between them.
Williamson won a gold medal at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Games and is a three-time Paralympic Games medallist; Dueck won a silver medal at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games and Joines won a bronze at the Turin 2006 Paralympic Games.
Also nominated today was Braydon Luscombe (Duncan, B.C.), who was a forerunner in Vancouver.
Skiers who will make their Paralympic debut in Sochi include Caleb Brousseau (Terrace, B.C), Mac Marcoux (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., guided by Billy Joe Marcoux), Alexandra Starker (Calgary, Alta.), Kurt Oatway (Calgary, Alta.), and Alana Ramsay (Calgary, Alta.)
“Honestly, this is mind-blowing. It’s still setting in that we’ve gotten this far and we’re going to the Paralympics,” said Mac Marcoux, who skis in the visually impaired category and is guided by his older brother, Billy Joe.
At just 16 years old, Marcoux has seven World Cup podiums and a world championship silver medal.
The duo is considered a top medal hope for Canada in Sochi.
“It’s super exciting,” said Mac Marcoux. “Many of my teammates have a lot of experience at the Paralympics, and I really look up to them as role models. I plan to go in with an open mind and see what we can do.”
Jean-Sébastien Labrie (Quebec City, Que.) will lead the team as head coach.
At the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, Labrie coached the para-alpine team to 13 of Canada’s 19 total medals, including six gold.
“I feel really confident about the team we’ve put together,” said Labrie. “The depth of talent is exceptional. We’re going to be looking to athletes like Chris Williamson, who has more than 100 World Cup podiums, to lend experience to the younger athletes who absolutely have the ability to be on the podium, but not necessarily the miles logged at an event as big as the Paralympics. It’s going to be a really exciting group to watch.”
“Canada has one of the leading para-alpine programs in the world, and this roster of athletes reflects that,” added Brianne Law, athletic director of the para-alpine program at Alpine Canada.
“In Vancouver we showed the world some exceptional performances, and I hope that Sochi will be no different. Any one of our athletes has the potential to step up to the challenge on race day and make Canada proud.”
“The para-alpine team is highly focused on top performances, with an attitude of excellence that shines through when speaking with the athletes and coaches on the team,” noted Team Canada’s Chef de Mission, Ozzie Sawicki.
“I know they are well-prepared to contribute to Team Canada’s overall goal of placing in the top three nations in the gold medal count.”
“Canada is proud to have our best para-alpine skiers represent our nation on the slopes in Sochi,” said Joan Croackatt, Member of Parliament (Calgary Centre).
“All Canadians from coast to coast to coast will be cheering you on as you strive for Paralympic glory.”
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place from March 7 to 16.
Para-alpine racing in Sochi begins on March 8 with men’s and women’s downhill.
The team will also compete in super-G, super combined, slalom and giant slalom.
With a goal of placing in the top three nations in the gold medal count, Canada will send approximately 50 athletes to compete in sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, para-Nordic skiing, biathlon, para-alpine skiing and para-snowboard.
Upcoming Canadian Paralympic Team nomination announcement events include para-snowboard on Sunday, January 26 in Big White, B.C.
Nomination to the Canadian Paralympic Team is ongoing.
The full team will be officially unveiled in February.
Mac and BJ Marcoux take home gold