“I’ve already had nine years of experience with the national team, so some consider me a veteran”
With just 150 days to go until the Sochi 2014 Paralympics, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has named 14 alpine skiers as athletes to look out for this season in the lead up to the Games.
Those featured in the “Ones to Watch” list at www.paralympic.org have nearly 30 world and Paralympic titles between them across downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super-combined and are tipped to be medal contenders on the slopes in Russia from 7 March.
Five-time reigning French world champion Marie Bochet headlines the list, having swept all disciplines in the standing class at the 2013 IPC World Championships in La Molina, Spain. The 19 year-old also won the women’s standing speed events at the World Cup finals in Sochi, on the same course that will be used for the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games.
Austrian Markus Salcher, 22, is a new addition to the list having captured gold medals in the men’s downhill and super-G standing events at the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain. Salcher will compete in his second Winter Games in Sochi, and his risen to world number one since Vancouver 2010.
“I’ve already had nine years of experience with the national team, so some consider me a veteran,” Salcher said.
“After my most successful season, I’ve prepared myself over the summer with intense training for the upcoming Paralympic season.”
Slovakia’s Henrietta Farkasova will be making her comeback this season after a crash in La Molina cut short her World Championships, after claiming the title in the women’s slalom and downhill. The 27 year-old visually impaired skier is a three-time Paralympic champion from Vancouver in the super-G, super combined and giant slalom.
Farkasova’s biggest rival and fellow One to Watch for Sochi is Russian Alexandra Frantseva who picked up three world titles last year in La Molina, aided by Farkasova’s absence.
Austrian Claudia Loesch leads the list in the sitting classification having collected three world titles in giant slalom, super-G and super combined at La Molina. The 24 year-old is also the reigning Paralympic champion in the super-G and slalom from Vancouver 2010.
The road to Sochi has already begun for all 14 skiers on the list, with World Cup events already completed in the southern hemisphere in Coronet Peak and Mount Hutt, New Zealand and Thredbo in Australia.
The next major test will be the start of the 2013-14 Europa Cup season in Pitztal, Germany, on 15-17 December with the next World Cup taking place in early January in Panorama, Canada (8-14 January).
The climax to the season will be the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup finals in Tarvisio, Italy from 24-27 February, just 10 days before the start of Sochi 2014 on 7 March.
Markus Salcher (AUT), 22, reigning world champion men’s downhill and super-G.
Marie Bochet (FRA), 19, reigning world champion women’s downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super combined.
Andrea Rothfuss (GER), 23, defending World Cup points champion.
Vincent Gauthier (FRA), 27, reigning world champion men’s giant slalom and slalom.
Michael Bruegger (SUI), 31, silver medallist downhill and two bronze medals in giant slalom and super-G at 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships.
Anna Schaffelhuber (GER), 20, reigning world champion women’s slalom and defending World Cup points champion.
Claudia Loesch (AUT), 24, reigning world champion women’s giant slalom, super-G and super combined.
Takeshi Suzuki (JPN), 25, defending World Cup men’s sitting points champion.
Taiki Morii (JPN), 33, reigning world champion men’s giant slalom, super combined and super-G.
Jon Santacana (ESP), 32, reigning world champion men’s downhill, giant slalom and super-G.
Alexandra Frantceva (RUS), 26, reigning world champion women’s giant slalom, super-G and super combined.
Henrietta Farkasova (SVK), 27, reigning world champion women’s slalom and downhill.
Kelly Gallagher (GBR), 28, first athlete from Great Britain to win a medal at a world championships and medallist at three consecutive world championships.
Jakub Krako (SVK), 23, reigning Paralympic champion men’s slalom, giant slalom and super combined.