UK Sport has praised Para-Alpine Skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans for winning ParalympicsGB’s first ever winter Paralympic Gold medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, ensuring ParalympicsGB have met the UK Sport target of "at least two" medals.
Gallagher and Evans were first up on the slopes of Rosa Khutor for the Women’s Super-G Visually Impaired competition this morning, setting a time of 1.28.72 and facing a nervous wait as the rest of the competitors tackled the course.
They were followed down the course by GB’s Jade Etherington and her guide Caroline Powell, who won silver on Saturday in the Women’s Downhill competition. Etherington and Powell also secured a medal today with bronze in the Super-G in a time of 1.29.76, taking the total ParalympicsGB medal tally to three so far.
Reaching three medals represents ParalympicsGB’s best Games haul in 20 years, where five medals were won at Lillehammer 1994, with six days of competition in Sochi still to go.
Rod Carr, Chair of UK Sport, said: "Congratulations to Kelly, Charlotte, Jade and Caroline, and the British Disabled Ski Team coaches and support staff, on winning these historic second and third medals for ParalympicsGB at Sochi 2014.
"Kelly and Charlotte’s achievement, in becoming Britain’s first ever Winter Paralympic Champions, represents a landmark moment for British winter sport.
"This is testament to the hard work the athletes have put in to perform at their best on the biggest stage, and also the fantastic Games time preparation and support provided by the British Paralympic Association for all our Paralympians."
Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, said: "There’s been a record investment of National Lottery and Government funding into British winter Olympic and Paralympic sports in preparation for Sochi 2014, and this has helped both teams achieve historic results and make the nation hugely proud.
"There’s still plenty of action to come from ParalympicsGB in Sochi, and we’re looking forward to seeing what more can be achieved over the coming days."
Kelly Gallagher and Jade Etherington have been fantastic ambassadors for the British Disabled Ski Team (BDST) on the Road to Sochi.
Following her fourth place finish in the Giant Slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, Gallagher began working with sighted guide Charlotte Evans, a pairing that has gone on to achieve great success. In 2011 Gallagher became the first Briton to win a medal at the IPC World Championships, winning silver in the Slalom and bronze in the Giant Slalom. They went on to win a further four medals at the 2013 IPC World Championships from the five events in which they competed.
Supported by Sport Northern Ireland and the BDST throughout her career, Gallagher’s improving performances were recognised by UK Sport when she was given a place on the National Lottery funded World Class Performance Programme in 2011, along with guide Evans.
Etherington joined the BDST development squad in 2009 and started skiing internationally in 2011. Competing with her guide Caroline Powell, Etherington won her first World Championship medal in January 2013, with bronze in the Super-G. Later that year, in June 2013, Etherington and Powell joined Gallagher and Evans on ‘Podium’ level UK Sport funding, offering them direct financial support and further access to coaching and sports science and medicine.
The consistent performances of Gallagher and Etherington on the international stage saw the sport receive a funding boost of over £130,000 following UK Sport’s annual investment review of winter sports in summer 2013, bringing total investment for the Sochi Cycle to over £405,000.
UK Sport has invested more than £750,000 in total into British winter sport athletes who are competing at the Paralympic Games at Sochi 2014, in the sports of Para Alpine Skiing and Wheelchair Curling, and set a medal target of "at least two", after the combined range of medal targets agreed with UK Sport funded winter Paralympic sports came to two to six.
Para Alpine Skiing has a target range of 2-5 medals with Wheelchair Curling targeting a range of top 4 - 1 medal.