China snowboarders took two golds – and six medals overall – in Friday’s (March 11) banked slalom.
Wu Zhongwei and Sun Qi won the men’s banked slalom SB-LL1 and SB-LL2 respectively.
Sun led a strong field home, including Finnish world champion Matti Suur Hamari who settled for silver. Ollie Hill won Great Britain’s first Paralympic snowboard medal with bronze.
“The medal is like a key starting the next chapter of my life,” Sun said. “It encourages me to go forward, unafraid of difficulties. Because I did it this time, I believe I can do it next time.”
In the men’s SB-LL1, Wu dominated in both runs to take the win. The Netherlands’ Chris Vos regrouped after just missing the podium in the snowboard-cross for silver. Canada’s Tyler Turner – the new cross Paralympic champion – landed in the top three once again with bronze.
At the end of Para Snowboard, China top the medals table with three golds, three silver and four bronze overall.
Having missed out on gold in the snowboard-cross as the world champion, France’s Maxime Montaggioni did not want to do the same in the men’s banked slalom SB-UL.
After the first of the two runs were completed, Montaggioni was 0.01 seconds behind then-leader Ji Lijia of China. But the Frenchman finished his second run in 1:09.41 – 0.46 seconds faster than his first – to edge out Ji by 0.45 seconds and consign him to silver.
“At the gate, I had nothing to lose,” Montaggioni said. “It was 0.01 and I couldn’t think that I will lose (by so little). I had to do everything I could to leave the competition with no regrets. So I was free and strong, and it paid off.”
Ji said: “That’s like a finger’s distance. It’s OK,” he continued, laughing.
The USA’s Brenna Huckaby also produced second-run heroics to win gold in the women’s banked slalom SB-LL2.
After her first run she had the second-fastest time – and was the only non-Chinese athlete in the top five – but completed her second run quickest to beat respective silver and bronze medallists Geng Yanhong and Li Tiantian, both from China.
Geng and Li’s achievement makes them the joint-first female Paralympic medallists for their country.
Asked what was going through her mind before her second run, Huckaby said, laughing: “Oh, s**t.”
“The thing is, they’re fast [the Chinese athletes]. I also know I can be fast, and so I was like, ‘If I can just ride my snowboard like I know how to do, I can be in the running’.
“I still can’t believe I won because those girls are freaking fast.”