Austria’s Roman Rabl in top shape ahead of Worlds

The 25-year-old has won four straight giant slalom races and looks to continue on that pace. 05 Jan 2017
Sit skier Roman Rabl rounds a turn very low, at speed with snow spraying behind him and outriggers outstretched.

Roman Rabl, Austria on the edge holding nothing back

By Ryan Wilson | For the IPC

As Austria’s Roman Rabl starts to hit his stride, he seeks to bag as many medals as possible for the rest of the season.

Rabl, a three-time bronze medallist at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, has two World Cup victories this season, and it seems he may be far from done.

“The start [of this season] was better than expected,” the 25-year-old said. “I am very happy about that, and I hope I will be able to transfer that performance into the speed races as well.”

On 11 January, Rabl will look to be triumphant again at the season’s first speed event, a World Cup in Innerkrems, Austria, where he owns an apartment and has trained in the past.

Rabl usually skis in Innerkrems a couple times a year, but he has not had a chance to do so in the past two because of a snow shortage in the area.

“It is pretty flat, which does not play too well with my strengths,” the sit-skier said. “I like it steep, difficult and technically demanding, where I can gain more advantage on the LW10s, like Christoph Kunz [of Switzerland] and Georg Kreiter [of Germany].”

To capitalise on the only downhill contest before the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, Rabl said he has to overcome what he calls his “speed-event jinx," referring to his history of coming up short on the downhill.

“So far, I finished second in no less than six speed events but have never won one,” Rabl said. “Innerkrems is a home race, and I will try to use that advantage to finally make it to the top.”

He has the momentum from his recent races on his side. His two wins this season came in four days — at the World Cups in Kuhtai, Austria (16 December) and St. Moritz, Switzerland (20 December).

The finishes rank him amongst the best ahead of the Worlds, which will take place from 22-31 January.

“A gold medal would mean fulfilling one of my biggest dreams in skiing,” Rabl said.

If he makes it to the podium in Tarvisio, it would be his third medal over four World Championships.

And if he qualifies for the Pyeonchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, he seeks to make a name for himself at what would be his second Paralympics.

“I do not want to participate,” said Rabl, who won three bronzes at Sochi 2014. “I want to medal. After all, that is what all ski racers want. That one moment on the podium when you receive your medal is priceless.

“I have already been there, and it is an incredible feeling I want to achieve again.”