This Alpine Skiing season will see new athletes complete on slopes that have never been open before to Paralympic competitions, says Sylvana Mestre, Chairperson of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee.
The highlight of the season will be the World Cup finals in Panorama, Canada from 13-16 March 2012.
“I am excited about seeing the Canada World Cup final because it’s the first time we’re going to have a race in Panorama. They are very keen for it to be there and have also applied to host the 2015 IPC World Championships. They have very good slopes and I think it’s important that new slopes open for IPC Alpine Skiing,” Mestre said
Eastern European resorts are also opening up for the first time to host IPC Alpine Skiing events this season, which Mestre attributes to growing interest in the build up to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
“What’s interesting is that the Czech Republic and Croatia are starting to hold events.” Mestre said. “Before it was unimaginable to have a race in those places, but now they’re starting.”
With just over two years to go until the next Winter Paralympics, there has been a new influx of young alpine skiers and professional coaches.
“We are getting a lot of youngsters registering for licenses. There are a lot of changes on the teams,” Mestre said. “The good thing is that more and more professional coaches are entering the sport. This brings the sport’s standard up because it means the athletes are getting better training.”
Another positive step is that IPC Alpine Skiing is growing at the grassroots levels with new opportunities for low level races opening up.
“Before you only had the national team athletes. Now you start to get clubs that are interested because we are building the low level races so that they get opportunities to compete because the bigger competitions can be too challenging,” Mestre said.
The next race of the season will be from 17-18 November in Laandgraf, the Netherlands, where the sport is already part of the able-bodied federation.