Juneau monoskier Joe Tompkins closed out the 2002-03 disabled alpine ski season with one of his best finishes ever at the U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Championships held last week at Big Sky Resort, Mont.
Tompkins took fourth place among monoskiers and fourth overall in the downhill race held March 25; was the top monoskier and second overall in the Super G on Friday; was the third monoskier and ninth overall in the giant slalom on Friday; and was the fourth monoskier and 14th overall in the slalom race on Saturday.
"I'm quite happy with it," said Tompkins, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1987 car wreck involving alcohol that killed one of his friends. "That was probably one of the top nationals I've had since 1999. In the Super G, I beat the guy who took the Super G at the Paralympics. Kevin Bramble won the downhill at the Paralympics and Chris Devlin-Young on the Super G, and I beat them both. I definitely peaked at the right time."
In last Tuesday's downhill race, Bramble and Devlin-Young finished in a tie for the victory. Bramble's raw time of 1 minute, 26.11 seconds and Devlin-Young's raw time of 1:26.12 both converted to the same time of 1:12.25.
In disabled ski races, a conversion factor is used that adjusts times based on each skier's degree of disability. Tyler Walker took third place with a raw time of 1:31.42 and an adjusted time of 1:18.16, followed by Tompkins who had a raw time of 1:34.78 and an adjusted time of 1:18.45.
In Friday morning's Super G race, Tompkins posted what he said was his best finish in the event as he won the monoski division. Tompkins had a raw time of 1:43.09 and an adjusted time of 1:25.83, which took second place overall to standing skier George Sansonetis' adjusted time of 1:25.51 (his raw time was 1:32.50). Sansonetis has mobility in all his limbs, but suffers from a palsy.
Even though Devlin-Young (1:40.93) and Walker (1:41.55) had better raw times than Tompkins, their adjusted times didn't match up. Devlin-Young's adjusted time was 1:26.03 and Walker's was 1:28.07.
In Friday afternoon's giant slalom race, Tompkins was the third monoskier and ninth overall with a two-run raw time of 2:12.42 and an adjusted time of 1:51.12. Devlin-Young was the overall winner and top monoskier with a raw time of 1:55.83 and an adjusted time of 1:37.19.
In Saturday's slalom race, Tompkins was the fourth monoskier and 14th overall (behind a couple of able-bodied skiers) with a two-run raw time of 2:26.29 and an adjusted time of 1:50.17. Devlin-Young was the overall winner again, with a raw time of 2:01.30 and an adjusted time of 1:33.58.
"I feel pretty strong compared to where I was three years ago," Tompkins said. "I'm just now starting to take gates (across the chest) instead of going around them in the slalom and giant slalom."
Tompkins, who is in Colorado for the U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team's annual fund-raisers, said he's feeling good about the way he finished this season and he hopes it means he does well next year. Tompkins is currently a member of the U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team's C Team, but he beat skiers who are on the A Team.
"Next year the World Championships are in Austria," Tompkins said. "If I keep going the way I'm going, I'd like to go from 13th in the world into the top 10. I was ranked, like, 120th in the 2000 World Championships. I'm trying to find out if I'm going to get bumped up (to the A or B teams) or not. The coaches are trying to see if they can do it. If I get bumped up it won't cost me as much to get to meets."