Adaptive Skier of the Year
A new and well-deserved addition to the FasterSkier Awards, the Adaptive Skier of the Year poses some challenges. There are many categories within adaptive skiing, and some of the athletes participate in both cross-country and biathlon. One goal of the FS Awards is to keep things clear and simple, and we decided to present one award covering all categories and both adaptive xc and biathlon. This is similar to the decision not to offer separate awards for sprinting.
The men’s category seemed clear cut at first. Brian McKeever is arguably the greatest adaptive skier of all time, and has made his mark in able-bodied cross-country as well. But Andy Soule of the US has an impressive resumé, competing all season on the World Cup and winning Paralympic bronze in biathlon. Ultimately we went with a shared award, recognizing McKeever’s dominance and Soule’s versatility and consistency.
Adaptive Skier of the Year (men):
Brian McKeever (CAN). McKeever cleaned up at the Paralympics, winning three gold medals in the visually impaired classification. Racing with his brother Robin as guide, McKeever, was barely challenged. His performance in the 10km classic was his most dominating – a 1:26 victory.
McKeever was also a member of the Canadian Olympic team, and while he didn’t race, he once again proved he can compete at the highest level of the sport. He won the Canadian Olympic qualifying 50km in December and raced the 15km freestyle at the Canmore World Cup, finishing 63rd.
Andy Soule (USA). Soule competed in both adaptive cross-country and biathlon. He finished the IPC Biathlon World Cup ranked 4th in the world, just four points out of 3rd. He won one IPC biathlon World Cup race and placed in the top-4 four times in five starts.
The highlight of his biathlon season came in Vancouver when he became the first American Veteran on the podium in Nordic sports in the Olympics or Paralympics when he took bronze in the men’s 2.4km pursuit. That race also marked the first tie an American had won a medal in Olympic or Paralympic biathlon.
He missed a second medal in the 12.5km event, placing 4th.
Soule also ended the season ranked 9th in the overall IPC Cross-Country World Cup. He scored points in all six races with a season-best result of 6th. At the Paralympics, he finished 10th, 11th and 12th in the three races.
Chris Klebl (USA). Klebl placed 4th in the overall IPC Cross-Country World Cup standings, finishing in the top-7 in all six races. He also finished 8th, 9th and 16th in three Paralympic races.
Adaptive Skier of the Year (women):
Colette Bourgonje (CAN). Bourgonje, a veteran competing in her sixth winter Paralympics, won silver in the women’s 10km sit-ski and bronze in the 5km event.
Bourgonje also won a World Cup race, finished 2nd in another, and place in the top-4 in all four of her World Cup starts. She ended the season ranked 5th in the overall IPC World Cup standings.
In addition to her impressive winter accomplishments, Bourgonje has competed in three summer Paralympics, and now has a total of 10 medals to her name.
Thursday, April 15 – Rookie of the Year
Friday, April 16 – Collegiate Skier of the Year
Monday, April 19 – Adaptive Skier of the Year
Tuesday, April 20 – Continental Skier of the Year
Wednesday, April 21 – Biathlete of the Year
Thursday, April 22 – Nordic Combined Skier of the Year
Friday, April 23 – Performance of the Year (cross-country, biathlon, nordic combined)
Monday, April 26th – Cross-Country Skier of the Year