In the disabled ski season's grand finale, Juneau mono-skier Joe Tompkins pulled out all the stops to topple the nation's top-ranked Downhill skier at the 2008 U.S. Disabled Alpine National Championships at Soldier Mountain in Fairfield, Idaho. The event was held March 3 through Saturday.
Tompkins' stellar week consisted of winning the national Super G championship and taking second overall in the U.S. National Downhill event. Tompkins also placed fifth in the Giant Slalom amongst a competitive field of 14 qualifiers.
In the Downhill event, Tompkins finished 2.73 seconds behind Kevin Bramble for second place. The two would have a rematch, however, with Tompkins earning a milestone victory.
Tompkins, ranked the fifth best mono-skier in the United States and 12th in the world, ruined Kevin Bramble's chance at another sweep in the Downhill races by beating him in the second of the two challenging races. Tompkins defeated Bramble by 0.54 seconds in a second downhill race. The milestone win was huge for Tompkins because Bramble has not lost a downhill race to anyone in the world for nine consecutive years.
"Initially, I was pretty happy being second to Bramble in the downhill, but this winning in the downhill was wonderful," Tompkins said. "My voice is still kind of raspy from letting out a hoop and a holler."
In the first Downhill race, Tompkins' initial time of 1:38:52 left him 2.73 seconds behind Bramble. In the second race, however, his time of 1:34:59 bested Bramble by nearly one minute, giving a second place overall finish.
With a time of 1:28:08, Tompkins decisively won the Super G by 2.09 seconds. He placed fifth in the Giant Slalom with combined time of 1:58.82.
Tompkins had not raced competitively since crashing hard and injuring his shoulder while representing the U.S. in the 2006 Paralympic Games in Torino, Italy. With high hopes of returning to top form, Tompkins buckled down his training at Eaglecrest Ski Area by free-skiing as much as possible.
"The more miles, the better," Tompkins said.
Recently, Tompkins could foresee good things happening when he posted the fastest time in the training runs at the World Cup Finals last month in Japan. Unfortunately, the speed events, Tompkins' strength, had to be canceled due to heavy snows, which could have endangered the skiers.
With the tour circuit officially over, Tompkins said he looks forward to participating in the inaugural mono-skier-cross events that will be starting up all over the western US. Sponsored by Jeep, the events are similar to the boarder-cross events in the X Games, and the stakes are worth the competition.
The first event, called King of the Mountain at Sun Valley, Idaho, is tentatively scheduled for Friday.
"I like a little air and being competitive and right now it's all about getting involved," Tompkins said. "With $10,000 in prize money, we are getting more recognition on shows like X Games then we are at our own races, but whatever, we all got to pay the bills."
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