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Alaska Paralympic skier notches first World Cup win in downhill

Van WilliamsAlaska Sports Hall of Fame

Andrew Kurka, 21, of Anchorage won a gold medal in the men’s sitting division on the first day of downhill competition at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Cup in British Columbia.

“It feels really great to win in what is really only my third international competition,” Kurka told the USOC. “I’m just hoping to carry this through to Sochi. There are still more races here this week, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’m really good.”

Kurka, of Challenge Alaska fame, is the only Alaska representative on Team USA for the International Paralympic World Cup. “It’s a huge honor,” he said last summer. “Alaska’s the little piece of America and it’s my dream to represent.”

He hasn’t made the Olympic team yet, although the win went a long way in punching his ticket. The U.S. team that will compete in alpine skiing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be named in February.

Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, writes about the athletic exploits of Alaskans for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at alaskasportshall@yahoo.com.