Walker Defends Mono Skier X Title

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As his fellow competitors were crashing around
him, Tyler Walker kept his composure, expertly navigating the
course to win his second gold in the mono skier X competition.

"You always count on the unexpected, but that wasn't part of my
arsenal," said Walker, who was born with a condition where his
spine was missing from the first vertebrae. "I was able to stay
upright the whole time, but just barely."

Silver medalist Sam Ferguson took a tumble right out of the
gate. However, he caught up with defending champion Kees-Jan van
der Klooster, who was having trouble of his own, wiping out on two
separate occasions.

"I had a little bit of a wobble early, but I stayed
persistent," Ferguson said. "I knew I would be able to get back
on course. Anything goes in this game."

Walker has become an elite ski racer, winning the world cup
giant slalom overall title in 2006.

He took the lead early in the race Sunday and never let up on
the bumpy course.

"There were some concerns because it snowed a lot and the
course was slower," said Walker, who hails from Franconia, N.H.
"This was my first time on it, so I guess it was fine for me."

Van der Klooster recently started a foundation where he mentors
athletes with disabilities, giving them a boost of empowerment.

The Dutchman broke his back in a snowboarding fall in 2001 and
is paralyzed from the waist down.

He remembers laying in the snow after his accident as his friend
went to get help, already planning life without the use of his

"I got my head clear and said, 'If that's the way I have to go
on, let's make the best of it,"' he recalled.

So he has.

He's fearless on the course, willing to take almost any risk.
Last year, he went over an 85-foot jump to win gold.

Van der Klooster's jump is still the stuff of Winter X lore.

This time, though, he took risks to catch Walker and just
couldn't make up the ground.


T.J. Schiller wouldn't call his return to skiing a comeback.

Schiller, who won gold in the slopestyle event Sunday, doesn't
feel like he ever really left.

The Canadian missed Winter X last season after he tore the ACL
in his right knee trying to land a jump a week before the

But he kept his head in the game.

"I watched ski movies, read all the magazines," Schiller said.
"Every day I went to the gym thinking about skiing again. I
trained hard and stayed stoked. So I'm crazy stoked right now."

Sammy Carlson took second and Colby West was third.

Tanner Hall withdrew from the competition due to the snowy