Skier Mollie Jepsen races to Canada’s first gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Beijing

Alpine skier Mollie Jepsen won Canada’s first gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Beijing on Saturday in China.

The 22-year-old skier from West Vancouver, B.C., won the women’s standing downhill with a time of one minute 21.75 seconds, bettering the bronze medal she won four years ago at Pyeongchang.

China’s Zhang Mengqiu was just a tenth of a second behind Jepsen for silver, while Sweden’s Ebba Aarsjoe took bronze in 1:23.20.

“Usually we ski courses a million times before racing, but this is my fourth time on this particular track,” Jepsen said. “I’m completely overwhelmed, I knew exactly what I wanted to do today and I’m glad I put it all together.”

WATCH | Jepsen wins gold in Beijing:

Mollie Jepsen wins gold for Canada’s first Paralympic medal at Beijing 2022

West Vancouver’s Mollie Jepsen won the women’s standing downhill event at the Paralympic Games in Beijing with a time of 1:21.75. 2:09

The door opened for Jepsen when the first skier through the gates, Frenchwoman Marie Bochet, lost one of her skis within seconds and couldn’t finish the race. Bochet holds eight career Paralympic titles.

The Canadian took full advantage of her opportunity, running a smooth race on the Yanqing National Alpine Ski Center course.

Jepsen, the third-placed skier, looked set to set the fastest time of the day for about three-quarters of the race before lurching around a turn and nearly falling.

But she managed to recover just in time, crossing the finish line in first place and never releasing her grip.

WATCH | What you missed from the opening ceremony:

While You Were Sleeping: Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony Recap

While You Were Sleeping is back for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games. Catch up on the first thing on the agenda in Beijing: the Opening Ceremony, with CBC Sports’ Jacqueline Doorey. 2:40

Their compatriots Michaela Gosselin and Alana Ramsay missed the podium, finishing fifth and seventh respectively.

Jepsen, who was born without fingers in her left hand, now holds five career Paralympic medals, including two gold. She won gold in super combined, silver in slalom and bronze in downhill and giant slalom in 2018.

But it hasn’t been easy for her since. Just months after her breakthrough success in Korea, Jepsen was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which put her out of competition for the entire next season. She would also battle other injuries over the next few years.

Due to COVID-19, the entire Canadian team did not race once during the 2020-21 season.

Competition finally resumed in the run-up to Beijing, and Jepsen won three medals at the world championships in January, showing she may be back to winning form.

Her latest Paralympic title proves she is once again a force to be reckoned with.

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