Disabled World Cup X-C opener gives U.S. a wake-up call


Disabled World Cup X-C opener gives U.S. a wake-up call{mosimage}VAL DI FIEMME, Italy – The season-opening cross-country World Cup race for disabled skiers – with European athletes showing ‘huge’ improvement over the World Championships that ended the 2005 season – should serve as ‘an eye-opener’ to further motivate U.S. skiers in this Paralympic season, head coach Jon Kreamelmeyer said.

The U.S. skiers came to Val di Fiemme, which hosted the able-bodied nordic World Championships in 1991 and again in 2003, for one World Cup cross-country race, but some also competed in one or both of the biathlon competitions.

‘It’s a long way for one race, especially when no one gets to the podium’ Kreamelmeyer said, ‘but it was a chance for us to see where everyone is … and this was an eye-opener to see how much improvement they’ve made since March. I think our athletes have trained hard and trained well, but we saw some huge advancement by the Europeans and the Russians.

‘It was disappointing in that we had no one on the podium, but it was such a wake-up in terms of seeing the overview, seeing how fast everyone else is skiing. ‘Cookie’ [defending World Cup champion Steve Cook] was a little sick, so he wasn’t on his game … and it’s no picnic going over sick and running into three straight days of competitions.’

He singled-out sit-skier Monica Bascio (LW-11) and one-armed Kelly Underkofler (LW-6/8) as skiing particularly well ‘and it’s not as if we were totally trashed in the race. But I think everyone heard that wake-up call, so that’s a positive.

‘The trip started kind of strangely’ he said, ‘with ‘Crenny’ [Mike Crenshaw, LW-4] running into some passport problems, which delayed us half a day at the airport in Munich, but the bottom line is we’ve seen how much we’ll have to raise our level … and I think everyone heard that wake-up call, loud and clear’ Kreamelmeyer said.

The next races for the disabled skiers will be the U.S. Cross Country Championships Jan. 3-10 at Soldier Hollow, Utah. Cross-country athletes are training on their own through the holidays and will regroup at nationals, he said.

- Courtesy USSA News Bureau

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