PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA – Gurimu Narita won gold Friday in men’s snowboarding banked slalom at the Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics.
The Osaka native claimed his second medal at these games after he finished with the best time in the SB-LL2 classification of 48.68 seconds on his last of three runs at Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
American Evan Strong, who won the standing snowboard cross event at the 2014 Sochi Games, was 0.52 seconds behind on his final run. Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari settled for bronze.
“It’s the best feeling,” Narita said. “As an athlete, I’m happy to win the gold because it means that I can share my story with more people.”
The 24-year-old Narita, whose left leg was paralyzed below the knee in a training accident on a trampoline, led the field on his first run but improved in each of his two subsequent efforts for his first Paralympic gold.
“Everyone was improving their time in their second and third runs, so I knew if I messed up on my third run I would miss the podium,” he said. “It was that close, and was definitely an exciting race.”
Narita also won bronze in Monday’s snowboard cross event in his Paralympic debut. Suur-Hamari claimed his first Paralympic gold in that event.
Also from Japan, Daichi Oguri finished sixth in the SB-LL1 category for athletes with significant impairment in one or two legs..
In the banked slalom event, athletes compete individually in three official runs. The fastest timed run of the three determines the winner.
At Alpensia Biathlon Centre, Germany’s Andrea Eskau won the women’s 12.5 km biathlon’s sitting category for her second gold at these games. American Oksana Masters and Lidziya Hrafeyeva of Belarus took silver and bronze, respectively.
Japan’s Nonno Nitta was far behind in 13th.
In the standing category, Momoko Dekijima settled for ninth as Anna Milenina of the Neutral Paralympic Athletes won her fifth medal at Pyeongchang.
Keiichi Sato finished eighth and Masaru Hoshizawa 13th in the men’s 15-mbiathlon standing category. Kazuto Takamura was 13th in the visually impaired classification event.
Later in the day at Gangneung Hockey Centre, the Japan para ice hockey team finished its winless campaign with a 5-1 loss against Sweden.
Maximilian Gyllsten opened the scoring for the Swedes in the first period, but Japan answered early in the second with a goal by Kazuhiro Takahashi, who also scored his team’s only other two goals at these games, against host South Korea and Norway.
Sweden, however, came back on Niklas Ingvarsson’s power-play goal and closed out the period with Per Kasperi’s short-handed goal.
Two third-period goals for Sweden sealed Japan’s fate at the bottom of the eight-team competition.