Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Muffy goes 3-for-3 in Paralympics handcycling

Gold medalist three times over

Express Staff Writer

Muffy Davis enjoys her induction into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame during an April 2011 visit to the induction site, Sun Valley. Express file photo

     It’s a good thing the Seattle Ridge ski run named for her is called “Muffy’s Medals”—because Sun Valley’s Marianna “Muffy” Davis, 39, has plenty of them after last week’s 2012 Paralympic Games in England.

     Davis made it 3-for-3 in handcycling gold medals Saturday, Sept. 8 to account for half of the six medals won by the Americans in the 28 Paralympics handcycling events. They were staged on the famed Brands Hatch motor race track and through some of the rolling countryside in southeast England in the District of Sevenoaks in Kent.

     Her gold medals came in Saturday’s Mixed H1-4 Team Relay, in Friday’s 48-kilometer (29.8 mile) Women’s H1-3 Road Race and in Wednesday’s Women’s H1-2 individual time trial (ITT).

     Last week’s result on the world’s biggest handcycling stage meant that Davis has won every race she has entered in 2012, including three World Cup gold medals. The three golds also meant Davis boasts seven medals in one Paralympics as a handcyclist and two Paralympics as an alpine skier.

     Davis, paralyzed from a 1989 ski accident on Baldy at age 16, returned to the skiing sport as a Paralympian in 1998 and won a bronze medal in alpine skiing at Nagano, Japan. Ten years ago, Davis added silver medals in downhill, super giant slalom and giant slalom mono-skiing during the 2002 Winter Paralympics at Snowbasin, Utah.

     A Wood River High School and 1995 Stanford University graduate, Salt Lake City, Utah resident Davis became a perennial World Cup challenger for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team in the LW-10 category.

     She took up handcycling three years ago to get into shape after the birth daughter Glenda. Davis won the H2 national championship 19.6k time trial at the U.S. Paralympic Road Cycling National Championships June 21 in Augusta, Ga. She became one of 17 cycling athletes competing in London on behalf of U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

     NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) plans to air a 90-minute Paralympics special from 12-1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16. Video highlights and Paralympics coverage are offered online at Paralympics.


Paralympics wrap-up for Muffy

     In Saturday’s handcycling finale, Davis along with Mixed H1-4 teammates Oscar “Oz” Sanchez, of San Diego, Calif., and Matt Updike of Denver, Colo., demonstrated seamless transitions throughout the nine-lap race. They finished the 18k (11.2 mile) course in 30 minutes and seven seconds.

     Each team in the handcycling mixed team relay consisted of three riders, with no baton or other physical contact required. Each rider needed to complete two laps. The U.S. relay team finished 43 seconds ahead of Italy, which took the silver medal, and 51 seconds ahead of Switzerland, which took home the bronze.

     The U.S. took control in the final three laps. Davis had the U.S. in second place when Sanchez surged to the front. It was then Updike who maintained the lead for the final two kilometers.

     On Friday, Davis captured her second gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and Monica Bascio, 42, of Evergreen, Colo., secured her second silver. The American teammates dominated the 48k Women’s H1-3 Road Race. Davis won in 1.41:34 and Bascio finished 33 seconds back.

     Bascio said, “We had a plan and it played out to perfection. Muffy is riding strongest right now, and she rode a great final lap (in the road race). We are thrilled with the way the race played out…the way that Team USA dominated, and I couldn't be happier with my second silver medal.”

     Davis debuted Wednesday by winning the gold medal in individual time trial. She was one of three Americans earning 16-kilometer ITT medals on the famed Brands Hatch motor race track. Her final time of 31:06.39 was two minutes, five seconds ahead of silver medalist Karen Darke of Great Britain (33:16.09). Switzerland’s Ursal Schwaller won bronze (34:56.55).

     Other U.S. handcycling medalists in the 16k ITT Wednesday were Bascio and Sanchez.

     Bascio, the 2011 time trial world champion and 15-time U.S. Handcycling queen, won a silver medal in Women’s H3 ITT. Her time of 33:39.26 was 17.65 seconds behind winner Sandra Graf of Switzerland (33:21.61). Bascio’s paralysis came from a 1992 ski accident. She represented the U.S. at the 2006 and 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in cross-country sit skiing. It was her first Paralympic Games as a handcyclist.

     Sanchez, 36, a former U.S. Marine who suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, earned the bronze medal in the Men’s H4 ITT. A five-time World TT champion, Sanchez won a Paralympic gold in the ITT event at Beijing, China four years ago.

     In time trials, athletes start individually in staggered intervals and race against the clock. There were 18 time trial events at this year’s Paralympic Games, with seven designated for handcyclists.

     Paralympic cycling, managed by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), offers classifications based on functional ability of athletes, including visual impairment, cerebral palsy, amputations or other physical disabilities.

     Davis was named to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 2010 along with Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding. Ten years ago, Holding suggested and endorsed renaming the Seattle Ridge ski run Southern Comfort “Muffy’s Medals,” in honor of her Paralympic mono-skiing achievements.

     Last September, Davis was a gold medalist in the team para-cycling relay during the UCI World Road Championships in Denmark. She also won silver medals in H2 handcycle world events. She first made the U.S. team after winning three silver medals at the 2010 world finals and also taking gold in the 2010 U.S. women’s time trial.

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