16-Year-Old Bugaev Wins Russia's 18th Gold
Published: March 14, 2014 (Issue # 1801)
Russian 16-year-old Alexei Bugaev brought Russia its 18th gold medal of the Sochi Paralympics on Thursday, braving a badly worn course to win the men’s standing slalom.
Bugaev, from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, led after the first run and extended his advantage on the second to win in a total time of 1 minute 38.97 seconds, with French silver medalist Vincent Gauthier-Manuel 1.27 seconds off the pace.
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"I believed, but I wasn't sure until the end," he told R-Sport. "I've been doing this sport since I was a kid and I just like it crazily." The Paralympics are "something holy for an athlete," he added.
Bugaev completes the full set of Sochi Paralympic medals after winning silver in Saturday's downhill and bronze in the super G on Sunday.
Gauthier-Manuel's silver is the fifth career Paralympic medal for the Frenchman, but gold remains elusive.
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"I am not disappointed. I fought against the Russians. This is not easy here at their home," he said. "Bugaev is amazing, he is very strong when he is supported by the public like that. He impresses me. He reminds me a bit of myself when I was the same age. He arrived here like an outsider and he hid his game well."
The bronze went to Alexander Alyabev of Russia, a further half-second back. All of the top skiers were several seconds slower on their seconds runs as the Rosa Khutor course was eroded by the large number of entrants in the three men’s slalom categories being contested Thursday.
Earlier, Russia’s Valery Redkozubov and his guide Evgeny Geroev won the men’s visually impaired slalom ahead of Yon Santacana Maiztegui of Spain and 41-year-old Canadian Chris Williamson.
Later in the day, the sitting category slalom follows.