SOCHI, Russia – Sit-skier Josh Dueck won Canada’s third gold medal of the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games on Friday in men’s super combined, adding to the silver medal in men’s downhill he earned earlier in the week.
The 33-year-old from Kimberley, B.C., who gained worldwide acclaim in 2012 when he became the first person in the world to complete a backflip in a sit-ski, was fifth following the first run of the super combined, men’s slalom. Dueck was still in the hunt for the podium with a little more than one second to make up, and demonstrated his strength as a fierce all-rounder by skiing a remarkable super-G run for the win.
“I’m stunned. Speechless. To the moon. This is definitely the one kind of achievement that was missing on my bookshelf,” said Dueck, an X Games gold medallist, silver medallist from the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, and 2009 world downhill champion. “I can’t wait to hear the anthem ring loud and clear. It’s something that I’ve dreamt of for a long time.”
An elated Dueck threw up his hands in the leader box and let out a loud cheer when he realized he had claimed victory with a two-run combined time of two minutes, 18.20 seconds. The gold medal has been a long time coming for Dueck: this past weekend marked the 10-year anniversary of the freestyle skiing accident that left him without the use of his legs.
“I don’t like to focus on the outcome of what’s going on, but I wanted this, and it feels freaking great,” said the three-time Paralympic medallist. “I knew I had a shot, but there were some really good skiers in front of me who had a little bit of time in the bank. This hill favors a guy like me … it was about being smooth and being smart.
“Today’s my day. Actually, today is our day,” he added. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team of people I’ve been working with. This belongs to the entire team behind me – Alpine Canada, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, everybody back home in Canada – this was a collective moment.”
Dueck will receive his gold medal at a victory ceremony on March 15. The silver medal in the men’s super combined sitting category was awarded to Heath Calhoun of the United States (2:19.09) and Austria’s Roman Rabl won bronze (2:20.20).
In the men’s standing category, Braydon Luscombe, of Duncan, B.C., who was second after the first run, did not finish his second run. Kirk Schornstein, of Spruce Grove, Alta., was 12th (2:22.07). In the women’s standing category, Erin Latimer, from Etobicoke, Ont., was seventh (2:41.85).