John Leslie leads Canadian para-snowboarders in Sochi with seventh-place finish
SOCHI, RUSSIA, March 14, 2014 /CNW/ – Twenty-one-year-old John Leslie of
Arnprior, Ont. paced the Canadian para-snowboard team this morning with
a superb seventh-place finish, as the sport of snowboard cross made its
Paralympic debut in Sochi.
Leslie, the pride of Mount Pakenham near Ottawa, Ont., completed three
solid runs – the best two count for total time – and enthused about his
Paralympic experience afterward. Leslie’s best two runs combined time
“The experience was amazing,” said Leslie. “Everyone rode to their best,
I was with a pile of friends in the beautiful sun, doing what I love to
do. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to end things. I was very
happy with the way I rode and the way everything worked out.”
Tyler Mosher of Whistler, B.C. placed 12(th) in 1:59.80 and Ian Lockey of Rossland, B.C. placed 21(st) in 2:10.26. On the women’s side, Canada’s only female para-snowboarder,
Michelle Salt of Calgary, Alta., placed ninth in 3:21.28.
“To make history and be in the top 12 women in the world, I couldn’t be
happier with my result coming out of an injury,” said Salt. “I’m
starting to train for 2018 right away.”
Para-snowboard was officially added to the Paralympic Games in May 2012
after years of effort on the part of Canada Snowboard and the rest of
the snowboarding community.
“It’s great to be part of the first ever winter Paralympic Games with
snowboarding after 10 years of hard work developing the sport,” said
Mosher. “I wish I raced better, but I did my best given the race course
design and conditions. I look forward to getting back to Canada, doing
nationals and getting back to work.”
Team leader Dustin Heise said the Canadian performances were about hard
work and dedication to the program that Canada Snowboard put in place.
“All the athletes delivered the best that they could and I’m super proud
each one of them,” said Heise, who is also Director, Sport Development
for Canada Snowboard. “I’m especially proud of John and Michelle for
their top placings as Canadian athletes, but both Ian and Tyler also
did a fantastic job. This means a lot for the future of the sport. It’s
a place for us to start, to continue to grow and excel, and we have
expectations of excellence. We intend to be on the podium in a very
prominent way in 2018.”
“Our Canadian athletes stepped it up,” added head coach Candice Drouin.
“We trained really hard all winter and I could not be happier with the
results. Sure, a podium is always nice but I’m super happy with the way
they all performed. It’s a step in the right direction for the future
and we’ll take this and build on it for the next few years to come.”
The U.S.’ Evan Strong, Mike Shea and Keith Gabel claimed all three
medals in the men’s competition. Strong took gold with a combined
effort of 1:43.61, with Shea one second behind (1:44.18) and Gabel’s
combined time of 1:47.10.
In the women’s event, Bibian Mentel-Spee won the gold medal to become
just the second Dutch athlete ever to win gold at a Winter Paralympics.
Mentel-Spee was 10 seconds clear of Frenchwoman Cecile Cervellon
Hernandez-Ep, who collected silver with a total time of 2:07.31. The
USA’s Amy Purdy won bronze medal with a time of 2:14.29.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Media are invited to visit photos.paralympic.ca and create an account
to be able to download high-resolution photos of Canadian Paralympic
athletes at any time, at no cost.
For full information about Team Canada at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic
Games, please visit paralympic.ca/team-canada.
SOURCE Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC)