“Skiing is my life. It’s not about the money.”
The Austrian team has some young star power in super-G and downhill Paralympic champion Markus Salcher.
Salcher, who at 25 is one of his country’s youngest skiers, is focusing on grabbing even more medals in the World Cup, which gets underway in Kuhtai, Austria, on Thursday (15 December) and at the 2017 World Championships.
Salcher won silver in the super combined and giant slalom at the 2015 World Championships and won the downhill and super-G titles in 2013.
He said he is tweaking his skiing style to increase his chances of continuing his successful run. He and his coaches are trying to find a happy medium between being risky and quick.
“It’s hard, but we tried to find a solution,” Salcher said. “We tried to fix the techniques, and sometimes I can get it, and sometimes it works. But we will see at the World Cup at the first races in the giant slalom.”
Salcher will look to execute his style on home snow. The Klagenfurt native is expected to put on a show in the slalom and giant slalom which he anticipates will be the most challenging.
“I think maybe it’s possible that I can reach the podium [in the giant slalom], but it will be a hard fight,” Salcher said. “I will do my best.”
The two-time Paralympian is entering his third-straight year of training at the Olympic Training Centre in his home town. He was invited to the facility in 2014, and he has since trained 10 times a week alongside able-bodied athletes.
It has given Salcher an opportunity to learn new perspectives on Para alpine skiing and reach some new potential. It has also allowed him to build on the training he received from his father in his early career.
“The national team can give you feedback that is more objective than your own dad, because your own dad knows what you can do better,” he said.
The new feedback has made student Salcher set higher goals for the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships leading up to the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
The Worlds will be held between 22-31 January in Tarvisio, Italy. It is just one hour away from Klagenfurt by car, and Salcher said a large Austrian fan base in attendance will push him even more.
“Many people who support me know how strong I am when I’m skiing,” Salcher said. “If I’m standing on the track, I need to be thinking about the race. But if I think there are 30-50 people in the cage area, and they want to see me, it’s like, ‘I have to [medal] … this will be the main thing I have to do.’”
Despite the ambitious goals, Salcher is not competing for the accolades.
“My main motivation is skiing for fun,” he said. “Skiing is my life. It’s not about the money.”
The 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships will be the last major gathering of the world’s best skiers before PyeongChang 2018. Around 140 athletes from 30 countries are expected to compete.
Media accreditation is available at the Tarvisio 2017 website.