FORT KENT, Maine (March 15) – Steve Cook (LW-4; Salt Lake City) ignored a steady snowfall Tuesday to win the first race of the 2005 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships and take over the World Cup lead in the process.
Cook, skiing next to last in the 26-athlete field, covered the two-lap, 10K course at the 10th Mountain Ski Center in an adjusted time of 29:00.3 with Norway's Nils-Erik Ulseth (LW-3) taking the silver medal (29:22.6). The bronze went to Germany's Thomas Oelsner (LW-6), who skied last, starting 30 seconds back of Cook.
Sit-skier Monica Bascio (LW-11; Evergreen, CO) and Kelly Underkofler (LW-8; St. Paul, MN) had the next-best U.S. result on the first of four days of racing as each finished seventh.
“The coaches hit the wax, I ate the right things at breakfast and it all worked out,” Cook joked. “The snow was wicked fast and I had such good skis. It all just clicked.”
At about the 7K mark, he said, Cook got a split from Assistant Coach Scott Peterson “and he told me I was three seconds up [on Oelsner], so I figured I had to kick it up a bit because I didn't want to have it that close at the finish. And I had [World Cup leader Kjartan] Haugen [LW-4; Norway] just ahead of me, so I wanted to catch him…
“I'm pretty happy with this start. I wanted to come in and start the week with a good race to build confidence, so this is nice…but I got a double bonus because I think I took over the World Cup points lead, too. It's a good position to be in with just two races left,” Cook said. “Kjartan didn't ski his best today, finishing seventh, but he's not done.”
He praised the course “because it keeps coming at you. There's no room to rest; it's a demanding course,” said Cook, who lost his right leg below the knee in a 1988 tractor accident. He won four silver medals at the 2002 Paralympics on the hilly courses at Soldier Hollow, outside Salt Lake City; this title is his second, his fifth Worlds medal – joining his 2000 Worlds gold medal in the 10K classic technique at Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
The snowfall kept temperatures stable in the upper 20s, according to Head Coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. “If it had gotten just a little bit warmer, we might've had a little problem…but things held and we were okay. I didn't want to break out the klister [wax] yet.”
The Championships, run in conjunction with the Maine Winter Sports Center, are the first in the United states since the 1990 Championships in Jackson, N.H.; action resumes Thursday with short-distance races. Long-distance races are scheduled for Saturday with relays Sunday as the final events.
IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships
10th Mountain Ski Center
Fort Kent, ME – March 15, 2005
(All times adjusted)
Middle Distance Races
Men's 10K FR – Standups
1. Steve Cook, LW-4, Salt Lake City, 29:00.3
2. Nils-Erik Ulseth, LW-3, Norway, 29:22.6
3. Thomas Oelsner, LW-6, Germany, 29:24.8
18. Dan Perkins, LW-45, North Syracuse, N.Y., 34:12.6
Men's 10K – Sit-skiers
1. Robert Wator, LW-12, Poland, 32:38.0
2. Yuriy Kostyuk, LW-10.5, Ukraine, 32:50.3
3. Sergey Shilov, LW-10, Russia, 32:51.3
12. Bob Balk, LW-11.5, Long Beach, Calif., 35:20.1
17. Chris Klebl, LW-11, Heber City, Utah, 35:57.8
20. Greg Mallory, LW-11, Portland, Ore., 36:37.9
Women's 10K FR – Standups
1. Anna Burmistrova, LW-8, Russia, 35:20.4
2. Chiara de Vittori, LW-4, Switzerland, 35:30.7
3. Katarzyn Rogowiec, LW-5/7, Poland, 35:33.8
7. Kelly Underkofler, LW-8, St. Paul, Minn., 41:14.6
Women's 5K – Sit-skiers
1. Ljudmila Pavlenko, LW-11.5, Ukraine, 18:39.6
2. Olena Yurkovska, LW-12, Ukraine, 18:59.6
3. Shauna Maria Whyte, LW-11.5, Canada, 19:05.7
7. Monica Bascio, LW-11, Evergreen, Colo., 20:12.7
8. Candace Cable, LW-11, Truckee, Calif., 21:33.0
(No U.S. blind skiers)
For complete results: