WHISTLER, B.C. – It is a bronze medal with a golden glow for Viviane Forest.
Skiing with a badly pulled groin, while battling through heavy rain and fog, Forest finished third in the women’s giant slalom for the visually impaired at the Paralympics on Tuesday.
Forest collapsed at the finish and lay still in the snow for several minutes after earning her second medal of the Games. Her guide Lindsay Debou had to assist the Edmonton resident to a tent where she received medical attention.
“Going through all that pain was very difficult,” Forest said. “You had to block your brain and block your body.
“That bronze medal means gold to me. I am so happy about it.”
Forest smiled when asked how sore she was.
“From one to 10? I will give it an eight.”
Forest was limping badly when she made her way to the podium during the flower ceremony. Afterwards, she climbed on Debou’s back and was carried out of the finish area, bringing cheers from the fans and volunteers watching.
“She showed her true colours,” Debou said.
“About half way down she started to be in pain and I didn’t even know if she could make it through. I was encouraging her, telling her she could do it. She was fighting for the whole way down.”
Forest hooked an edge and almost skied off the course in her first run. That aggravated a groin injury she suffered a couple of weeks ago.
She was fourth after the first run but was taken to the team hotel for treatment by team physiotherapists. Despite the pain, she rejected any idea of withdrawing from the race.
“Failure or not doing it is not in my dictionary,” Forest said. “It’s not something I will consider.
“I told Lindsay: ‘Yell at me and make me think of something else when I have too much pain.’ She did it. I was yelling also. I was in so much pain, yelling was helping to keep me going.”
Jean-Francois Rapatel, the alpine team leader, called Forest “one tough cookie.”
“She did an unbelievable job considering the circumstances,” said Rapatel. “It was a testament to her courage.
“She is a fighter. It was a bronze that will mean a lot for a long time. The colour doesn’t matter.”
Debou said skiing with a groin injury would be like someone plunging a knife into your leg.
“Those are really important muscles for skiing and every single turn she is using those muscles,” said Debou. “She has to use other muscles to fight against it.”
Forest, 30, also won a silver in Sunday’s slalom.
Henrieta Farkasova and her guide Natalia Subrtova of Slovakia won the race in a two-run combined time of two minutes, 56.65 seconds.
Sabine Gasteiger and guide Stefan Schoner of Austria were second in 3:02.18. Forest and Debou, of Whistler, were timed in 3:11.17.
Canada barley missed another medal in the men’s race for the visually impaired.
Chris Williamson of Markham, Ont., and his guide Nick Brush of Kelowna, B.C., were fourth. Their time of 2:44.65 left them just .40 of a second off the podium.
In sledge hockey action late Monday, Canada downed Norway 5-0 to secure top spot in Group B. The Canadians will face Japan in one of the semifinals on Thursday, while the U.S. takes on Norway.
All told, Canada has won seven medals at the Paralympics so far, including two gold, three silver and two bronze.
The goal of the Canadian team is to finish in the top three countries in gold medals won.
In other events Tuesday, Canada’s wheelchair curling team rebounded from its first loss a day earlier to thrash Switzerland 15-1 in a game that took just six ends.
Thousands of local schoolchildren packed into the Vancouver Paralympic Centre for the game and loudly cheered each time Canada put a shot into the house.
Meanwhile, CTV announced it will show Sunday’s Paralympic closing ceremonies in Whistler live across the country. The broadcast will be in both English and French at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m ET.
Originally, the ceremony wasn’t even on the broadcast schedule for the Games.
Tuesday’s ski races were held in a cold, steady rain that soaked competitors and drenched the crowd.
Forest courted disaster in her first run when she almost missed a gate and swerved off course, but she climbed back up the hill and continued her run.
She had trouble again early in her second run and nearly skied off course.
Debou said a lot of skiers might have called it a day after the first run.
“I don’t think everyone else would do it,” she said. “Viviane and I want five medals and we’re here to do it.”
Forest expects to be ready for Thursday’s downhill.
“We have amazing staff here,” she said. “For sure I will be on my skis.”