“The major goal is to get good results and perfectly know all the courses.”
South Korea's Hang Seung Park has spoken of how the love and support of his family is motivating him to reach for the stars in 500 days’ time, when the next Paralympic Winter Games roll into PyeongChang in 2018.
The 29-year-old made his debut in 2016, becoming one of his country's top ranked athletes in the men's SB-LL2. Now he is planning to capitalise on his early success in the final season before PyeongChang 2018 by achieving at least one top three finish.
He will get his first chance at the IPC Para Snowboard World Cup in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, on 17-18 November. He may also compete at the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships in Big White, Canada, from 2-7 February and at the PyeongChang 2018 Test Event from 8-13 March.
“The major goal is to get good results and perfectly know all the courses,” Park said, going on to reveal that he has made changes to his set-up for the new season: “I have changed my prosthetic leg for sports and I expect that it would help me snowboarding.”
The people around Park are also major source of inspiration for the newcomer, who can sometimes find it hard to fit the sport in as a part-time athlete.
“Realistically there are many difficulties to focus on snowboarding only, but understanding of my wife and family in my circumstance, it motivates me to train more,” he said.
Park is also looking forward to facing his rivals and idols in the coming season, citing the USA's 2015-16 men's banked slalom World Cup runner-up Mike Minor as someone he particularly admires, as well as his teammate and Paralympic champion Evan Strong.
But it is PyeongChang 2018 which sits at the end of the rainbow for Park who acquired his impairment as a result of a car accident when he was just five years old.
“I am sure there are many advantages of hosting in South Korea. If we utilise this enough, I think it will lead to great outcomes,” he said. “Although the Paralympics will be held after the Olympic Games, many people don’t recognise it. However, as long as the Paralympic takes place in Korea, I believe it is a chance to let many Koreans know it more.”
The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games will be take place between 9-18 March 2018.
The Games will feature up to 670 athletes competing in 80 medal events across six sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, snowboard and wheelchair curling.