10 March 2022
Paralympic best for three-timer Whitley
Three-time Paralympian James Whitley recorded his best-ever finish in the Giant Slalom on day six at the Yanqing National Alpine Ski Centre, finishing a superb sixth in the highly competitive men’s standing class.
The 24-year-old clocked a combined time of 1:58.38 after two runs, finishing in the top 10 in a class of over 40 skiers – a feat he also achieved earlier in the week in the Downhill event.
“It was a really nice run, the further I got down the more I was charging after it. I left everything on the hill, for Giant Slalom that’s the best result I’ve ever had and I’m really, really happy with that,” said the Eastbourne-based skier.
I just enjoyed charging out the gate like I used to, it was a nice feeling.
Whitley, who competed at Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018, took time out to complete a university degree before returning to the sport believing he still had more to prove.
“I’ve come back with a bit of a clear head; a fresh body and mind and I just enjoyed charging out the gate like I used to, it was a nice feeling,” he said.
“It’s always nice to know that you belong on the leader board and in the top half, so I’m going to take the confidence I got today and put it in to the slalom (on Sunday), which is my bread and butter.”
"It was tricky": the Simpsons giant slalom
Teenager Neil Simpson, guided by brother Andrew in the visually impaired event, finished just out of the medals in fifth place after his two runs.
The duo, who won Super-G gold and Super Combined bronze earlier in the week, clocked 1:59.45 in the warm conditions.
“It was tricky,” admitted Neil. “It was a shorter distance than we are used to in Giant Slalom, certainly than what we’ve been training in the past season. The first run wasn’t ideal, we both were holding on to the ski too long and that costs you time each gate and builds up pretty quickly. The second run was better, there were some positives and something to work on.”
Alex Slegg makes his Paralympic debut
Sit skiers Alex Slegg and Dan Sheen meanwhile made their Paralympic debuts in the Giant slalom. While sadly Dan crashed out in his second run, Alex finished 26th in his first ever Paralympic race.
“Getting here to the start line was the main job for me in this Paralympic cycle, so putting down two good runs like that has really topped it off and I’m really thrilled, it couldn’t have gone better.
“The environment’s been great, and the wider team support has been amazing. I really feel like I’ve been able to thrive in this environment so I’m really excited for the next four years going forwards. Knowing that actually I wasn’t nervous, I was really excited to get out on the course, that’s going to put me in a good position for the slalom too.”
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