Locals strike Sochi gold

Vernon's Josh Dueck competes in the men's super combined sit ski event at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. Dueck went on to win the gold medal.
— image credit: Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee

Sochi, Russia has proven to be golden for North Okanagan residents.

Vernon sit-skier Josh Dueck won a gold at the Paralympic Winter Games Friday in men’s super combined, while Ina Forrest, of Armstrong, and Vernon’s Sonja Gaudet were part of the wheelchair curling team that struck gold Saturday, beating Russia 8-3.

“I’m stunned. Speechless. To the moon. This is definitely the one kind of achievement that was missing on my bookshelf,” said Dueck, an X Games gold medallist, silver medallist from the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, and 2009 world downhill champion.

“I can’t wait to hear the anthem ring loud and clear. It’s something that I’ve dreamt of for a long time.”

An elated Dueck threw up his hands in the leader box and let out a loud cheer when he realized he had claimed victory with a two-run combined time of two minutes, 18.20 seconds.

The gold medal has been a long time coming for Dueck. This past weekend marked the 10-year anniversary of the freestyle skiing accident that left him without the use of his legs.

“I don’t like to focus on the outcome of what’s going on, but I wanted this, and it feels freaking great,” said the three-time Paralympic medallist.

Prior to the gold medal game, Canada’s wheelchair curling team beat China 5-4 in the semi-final early Saturday.

“It’s tremendous,” skip Jim Armstrong told CBC about Canada’s golden victory.

“It’s been a long week but we played well today. It was probably our best game of the tournament.”

Gaudet was Canada’s flag-bearer during the Winter Games opening ceremony.

Medals in hand, the athletes are now making their way home.

According to the Canadian Paralympic Association, Dueck is expected to arrive at Kelowna International Airport Monday at 8:24 p.m., while Forrest and Gaudet will fly into the airport Tuesday at 2:22 p.m.



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