Samson Danniels overcomes Winter X veterans to claim Mono Skier X gold
To win competitions, physical fitness is not the only thing that plays a decisive role. Mind is just as big an integral factor as any other and whoever manages to make the most of their brain while experiencing an adrenal rush manages to get his hands on
success. It was precisely this very reason why Winter X Games rookie Samson Danniels of Canada managed to make such a huge impact in Mono Skier X Final at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, on Sunday, January 29.
After a mountain bike accident left the lower parts of his body paralysed when he was just 19, Danniels proved that he is a fighter by not letting his handicap get in the way of his adventurous spirit and passion to take up action sports. Stepping into the
adaptive skiing scene, the Whistler-native slowly began to gain recognition for his skills. However, he was yet to get his skills acknowledged at what is undoubtedly the biggest stage of winter action sports, Winter X Games. Therefore, he arrived at Buttermilk
Mountain to take on a handful of experienced adaptive skiers.
After surviving the qualifier heats and Semi-finals, Danniels reached the Final on Sunday to face the defending Winter X champion Josh Dueck, Alaska’s Gregory Peck and Britain’s Sean Rose in a battle for the coveted Winter X gold.
As the race got underway, all four mono-skiers shot off to a great start. No single skier was able to grasp the lead firmly during the initial stage of the race, though the 25-year-old Peck managed to move ahead of the pack after passing through the middle
section of the course.
Danniels stayed right on the heels of Peck, waiting for an opportunity to overtake him. The Canadian knew he could steal the lead from his Alaskan rival on the turns due to his superior turning skills. As the two approached the bank turns, Danniels capitalised
on the opportunity and moved ahead of him.
“I could see him scrubbing his ski. I could see his turn wasn't clean,” Danniels said. “I cocked back on the turn before, I let 'er go and I just knew that was going to be the point. I stuck it inside and I just took him. I knew it was mine.”
Peck had no intention of leaving the Canadian at peace and kept challenging him, gradually on him as they approached the take-off of the final jump. The two skiers came tip-to-tip right before they shot in the air and eventually collided while soaring towards
Danniels managed to maintain control despite the collision and safety shot passed the finish, clocking a time of 1 minute 51.977 seconds. As a result, the Winter X rookie clinched his maiden gold medal.
Peck lost control after the collision and came tumbling down the slope. However, his momentum carried him past the finish to take runner-up place and take home his second silver medal. For someone who was making a return to Winter X Games after missing it
last year, a silver medal was nothing short of a welcoming result for Peck.
The defending Winter X champion Dueck managed to find a place on the podium as well after getting past the finish line in 1 minute 53.135 seconds. Heading to Aspen this year, the 31-year-old Canadian was definitely hoping for a successful title defence,
but had to settle for a bronze instead.
Rather than experience, it was the skills and brains that determined the fate of Sunday’s Mono Skier X Final. Danniels did not get intimidated by the level of competition he was up against and confidently took them on to successfully add a Winter X gold
to his CV.
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