Related topics

Paralympics: Minor Wins Bronze

March 13, 2018 GMT

He didn’t get the medal he wanted. But Mike Minor sure did get the comeback he needed. After a disastrous fall in the semifinals ended his burgeoning gold-medal hopes in an instant early, the Waymart native rallied to claim the bronze medal in Snowboard Cross SB-Upper Limb division at the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang early Monday morning, putting Minor on the podium in the first-time event. Minor was often dominant throughout qualifying and the early rounds of the head-to-head tournament on an unseasonably warm, sunny day in South Korea, and the event itself took its share of strange twists and turns. But Minor overtook Italy’s Jacopo Luchini as the competitors approached the middle of hill to seal the bronze with one of his characteristically bold plays. Trailing Luchini practically out of the gates, Minor shadowed the veteran through the early parts of the course before deciding to make his move. He did so not by attempting to blast past him on the more open outside part of the course, but by staying on the narrow inside. Minor lowered his right shoulder, built up speed, and burst through the crack. Stunned, Luchini skidded and never recovered, as Minor took the Small Final and the bronze with ease. It was a competition of ease mixed in with some frustration and momentary heartbreak for Minor, who was born without a right forearm. His first qualifying run of 1:00.12 down the course easily stood as the best time of the day. It was so good, only one competitor, Austria’s Patrick Mayrhofer, even came within a second of topping it. But the easy ride stopped as soon as the medal tournament started. Seeded first, Minor faced Mikhail Slinkin of the Neutral Paralympic Athletes in the first round. He’d win easily, but only after the race had to be re-run when Slinkin’s gate did not open. That would become a recurring problem, delaying the snowboard cross events on two other occasions, once for more than half an hour. The event continued only after officials and coaches came up with a system to use bungee cords to manually keep racers in the starting blocks and simulate a fair start. There was actually brief discussion of canceling the event. The extra run and the long delays didn’t seem to affect Minor, who cruised past Italy’s Paolo Priolo in the quarterfinals. But against another Italian, Manuel Pozzerle, things didn’t go well. Minor didn’t get a clean break from the gate in their semifinal matchup, and the aggressive defending world champion fell behind the cunning Pozzerle. Getting aggressive, and perhaps a bit impatient, Minor dove hard into the first turn and lost control of his board. He skidded off the course, and Pozzerle scooted to an easy win while medical personnel and race officials hustled over to help Minor up and off the course. There was no real talk of an injury keeping him from the Small Final, though. And despite a second consecutive sluggish trip out of the gate, Minor got his medal there. He’ll compete for another late Thursday night in the banked slalom. Contact the writer: dcollins@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, x5368 @DonnieCollinsTT on Twitter