“Slalom is still not my strong point. This season it’s an important goal for me to make progress in the slalom”
This Alpine Skiing season Switzerland’s Paralympic gold medalist Christoph Kunz is determined to improve his results in the Slalom in the sit-skiing category.
The 29-year-old sit-skier got bronze in Giant Slalom at the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing World Championships in Sestriere, and in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics, he won gold in the Downhill and silver in the Giant Slalom sitting category.
This season, he has already won gold in Giant Slalom sitting at the European Cup event in Sestrier, Italy.
Until now, though, a medal in Slalom has eluded him – a point he is determined to address.
“Slalom is still not my strong point. This season it’s an important goal for me to make progress in the slalom,” he told paralympic.org earlier in the season.
But so far this season, a medal in the Slalom event seems beyond reach.
At the IPCAS race in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, in November he came sixth in Slalom sitting, and in the European Cup Sestriere, Italy earlier in January, he came ninth.
The self-confessed dare-devil hopes the events ion Arta Terme, Italy from 25-27 January 2012 will launch him onto the podium.
“I like the races in Arta Terme, I like the slope there. I had good results there in the European Cup,” he said, referring to his winning the Giant Slalom there at the 2010 European Cup.
Following a motorbike accident when he was 18, Kunz is paralyzed from the fifth thoracic vertebra, which means that he is a wheelchair user and is unable to control his stomach and back muscles, making his shoulders crucial for controlling his turns. He sits on one ski, which has two outriggers for balance, but says his disability makes turning difficult.
“The first time I went on a sit-ski it was really difficult to learn how to turn.
“Every time you try to make a turn, you fall and it’s a little bit frustrating in the beginning when you learn it.
“You need a lot of experience until you can go by yourself.”
Kunz’s high level of impairment makes competing against other Paralympic skiers a huge challenge.
“The LW12 skiers have more possibility for function in the body, so they can make faster movement,” he said, referring to the Alpine Skiing classification system. “For me as a LW10-1 the turns are difficult because you don’t have so much balance and I think it needs more experience for a sit-skier to be really fast.”
To read more about Christoph Kunz, you can visit his website: http://www.christophkunz.ch
For more information on IPC Alpine Skiing, please visit www.ipc-alpineskiing.org