OTTAWA – A team of 11 talented and determined racers, including two guides, are set to compete for Canada in Para alpine skiing at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games next month, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Alpine Canada announced Friday.
Five skiers are returning from the 2018 PyeongChang Games roster, including Paralympic multi-medallists Mollie Jepsen, Mac Marcoux, and Alana Ramsay, alongside Alexis Guimond and Frederique Turgeon. Six athletes will be making their Paralympic debuts: Katie Combaluzier, Michaela Gosselin, Logan Leach, Julien Petit (guide for Leach), Tristan Rodgers (guide for Marcoux), and Brian Rowland.
The full Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games Para alpine ski team includes:
1. Katie Combaluzier – Toronto, ON
2. Michaela Gosselin – Collingwood, ON
3. Alexis Guimond – Gatineau, QC
4. Mollie Jepsen – West Vancouver, BC
5. Logan Leach – Lumby, BC
6. Mac Marcoux – Sault Ste. Marie, ON
7. Julien Petit (Guide for Leach) – Québec City, QC
8. Alana Ramsay – Calgary, AB
9. Tristan Rodgers (Guide for Marcoux) – Ottawa, ON
10. Brian Rowland – Merrickville, ON
11. Frederique Turgeon – Candiac, QC
Jepsen was a breakout star at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, winning a gold, a silver, and two bronze at her first Games as an 18-year-old. Since that event four years ago, the women’s standing skier has battled an array of injury and illness but has bounced back in a big way, reaching the podium in all nine races she has entered this season.
“It’s an honour to be named to the team for my second Games,” said Jepsen. “I’m more nervous this time than last, as I’m more familiar with the experience, but I look to leverage that as I know what it takes to be successful. My goal is to go out there and leave everything on the hill, and use my experience to strive for the podium. If we all (the entire team) ski the way we know we can ski, then we will find success.”
Veteran skier Marcoux will be making his return to the circuit in Beijing after recovering from a recent injury to compete in his third Paralympic Winter Games. Four years ago, he won a gold and bronze, adding to his medal haul from 2014 when he claimed a gold and two bronze. Marcoux will race in Beijing in the men’s visually impaired category with guide Rodgers, who will be making his first Paralympic appearance.
“There are no words great enough to describe the sense of pride felt when I received the news that I would be representing Canada at my third Paralympic Games in Beijing,” said Marcoux. “I am stoked to be returning to racing on the big stage alongside my teammates with the maple leaf on our backs!”
There are three other skiers on the team with Paralympic Games experience. Ramsay won two bronze medals in the women’s standing category in PyeongChang 2018, four years after making her Paralympic debut in 2014. Guimond became the first Canadian male standing skier to podium in 20 years when he won bronze at his debut Games in PyeongChang, while Turgeon, a triple medallist at the 2019 world championships, earned a Top 10 finish in the women’s standing giant slalom at her first Paralympic appearance four years ago.
Newcomers Combaluzier, Gosselin, Leach, Petit, and Rowland all competed at their first World Cup events this season en route to qualifying for their first trip to the Paralympic Winter Games.
Leach, the youngest member of the Canadian squad at age 19 (with guide Petit), will join Marcoux and Rodgers in the men’s visually impaired races. Combaluzier and Gosselin both made impressive world championships debuts last month, with Combaluzier claiming three medals in the women’s sitting classification and Gosselin winning a bronze in the women’s standing slalom. Men’s sit skier Rowland, a member of the national team since 2019 but whose international debut was delayed due to the pandemic, rounds out the team.
“Being nominated to Team Canada is a huge honour, especially so early on in my career,” said Combaluzier. “I am so excited to represent Canada and show the world what I am capable of; 2022 is only the beginning!”
Kurt Oatway, a gold medallist at the PyeongChang 2018 Games, also met the criteria to be selected to the team but will unfortunately be unable to compete due to an injury sustained in January.
The Para alpine skiing calendar has been significantly altered in the past two years due to the pandemic with no international competition opportunities for the Canadians until this season. Races have returned in the past few months, with Canada most recently earning seven medals at the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway in January, courtesy of Jepsen (silver, two bronze), Combaluzier (two silver, bronze), and Gosselin (bronze).
“The last two years have been uncharted territory for all,” said Matt Hallat, Para alpine high performance director, Alpine Canada. “We want the team to focus on the things they can control, let go of the things they cannot, and prepare for their moment to the best of their ability. I know that this group has worked incredibly hard, battled an immense amount of adversity, and is prepared to show the world what they can do. It’s time to take care of the details, bring their best in the start gate and be proud of what they accomplish.”
The Para alpine skiing competitions will take place March 5-13 in Beijing, with five races per category: downhill, Super-G, super combined, slalom, and giant slalom.
“I am beyond thrilled to congratulate each and every member of Canada’s Para alpine ski team on qualifying for the Paralympic Games,” said Josh Dueck, chef de mission, Beijing 2022 Canadian Paralympic Team. “I know this team has been through a lot of challenges over the past few years, but they have consistently shown their resiliency and dedication, and have been so impressive in their preparation for Beijing. With leaders like Mac and Mollie at the helm alongside a very exciting group of new athletes on the journey to making their mark on the international scene, it is going to be so fun to watch all 11 skiers race at the Games. I will be behind them the entire way and know Canada will be cheering them on!”
The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will take place March 4-13, 2022 in China. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 50 athletes, and audiences across the country will be able to follow all the action live through coverage from the Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium, including broadcast partners CBC/Radio-Canada, AMI and Sportsnet, and digital partners Twitter, Facebook, and MXZN.
CLICK HERE to see the complete list of athletes currently named to the Canadian Paralympic Team. The Canadian Paralympic Committee will announce the official full team set to compete closer to the Games.
Story and Photo courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.