Kimberley native Josh Dueck won a silver medal in downhill sit-skiing, finishing only 0.39 seconds behind the gold medallist at the Paralympics in Sochi on Saturday.
It is the second silver medal for Dueck, who also skied to the same result in slalom at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
“This is fantastic,” Dueck said, who posted a time of 1:24:19. “I’m really about performance and I took a fast line down the hill and took some chances and I got pretty lucky… I crossed the line and was thrilled. Second is awesome.”
Dueck’s silver medal on Saturday was especially significant, being that it marked the 10-year anniversary to the day since a freestyle skiing accident landed him in a wheelchair.
Though there was a long wait at the start from course delays, the extra time at the top of the run allowed Dueck to mentally prepare for the race by harnessing the energy and thinking about his family back home in Canada.
“It was more about letting all that go and just skiing,” said Dueck, who raced with a photograph of his daughter placed over his heart.
Initially, Dueck looked like he was headed for gold after topping the leaderboard. Racer after racer tried to beat his time, and eventually, Akira Kano of Japan managed to edge into first place with a run of 1:23:80.
While Dueck’s racing ability speaks for itself, he also gave a nod to his equipment, noting that sit-ski technology has continued to develop since the Vancouver Games.
“The equipment has been huge,” Dueck said. “We’ve invested a lot of energy in keeping this equipment competitive with the rest of the world and maybe even a little better.
“I had the ability to trust in that, point it down the hill, and have a good time.”
On Sunday, Dueck competed in the super-G portion of the para-alpine skiing events, and was poised for a gold medal until a lightning-fast run was derailed at the final gate when he caught an edge and crashed.
Despite the result, Dueck was still upbeat about his performance.
“It was actually fantastic,” said Dueck. “I was one turn away from having a great run. You’ve got to be happy with that. Right now, I’m happy for our team.”
He will be competing in super combined on Tuesday.
“Obviously, I left something behind on the hill today, and I’d like to find it,” Dueck added. “Heck yes, I’m ready.”