Austria's former able-bodied European Cup winner, Matthias Lanzinger was met with stiff competition after entering his first para-Alpine Skiing competition on Thursday (17 November) in Landgraaf, the Netherlands. Lanzinger had his leg amputated after a skiing accident in 2008 and has only just returned to competitive skiing.
He finished third in the Men's Slalom Standing event, 0.37 seconds behind his teammate, Markus Salcher, who took silver and 6.17 seconds behind Russia's Alexandr Alyabyev who won gold.
The Austrian media was out in full force to cover Lanzinger's debut, and for Salcher, this made his win even sweeter.
"The media has told us that Lanzinger would be the first position in our team but I'm also strong and I think it's really interesting to see which time he goes and which time I go," he said.
"The media has come and they want to have an interview with Lanzinger, but also with me because I'm faster than Lanzinger," Salcher said with a big smile across his face.
"I'm a young guy and he's pretty new to the sport - he'll have to get faster," he quipped.
Austria also bagged silver and bronze in the Men's Slalom Sitting event by Roman Rabl and Dietmar Dorn, respectively. They were pipped at the post by Germany's Franz "the unbeatable" Hanfstingl. The race had the potential to be an all-German affair. However Germany's Thomas Nolte, a podium favourite, was disqualified after missing a gate on the second run and Georg Kreiter took a fall on the third run, taking him out of the race.
In the Men's Slalom Visually Impaired event, Russia again dominated, with Valery Redkozubov and guide Viacheslav Molodtsov, taking gold over four seconds ahead of Austria's Christoph Prettner, guided by Andreas Heinz-Erian, who has only begun guiding this season. Switzerland's Beda Zimmermann and guide Thomas Vanes took bronze.
The women's events saw the German team bagging three medals. Andrea Rothfuss won gold in the Women's Slalom Standing, ahead of the Netherlands' Anna Jochemsen and Russia's Inga Medvedeva.
Rothfuss' teammates, 18-year-old Anna Schaffelhuber and Anna-Lena Forster won gold and silver respectively in the Women's Slalom Sitting event. They were followed by Switzerland's Anita Kuster in third place.
In the Women's Slalom Visually Impaired category Russia's Alexandra Frantseva with guide E Kolosovskaya won gold. Coming in second was guide Great Britain's Fiona Gingell and athlete Jade Etherington who decided to race in the B2 classification, after being classified this week as a B1 athlete, in which skiers are required to wear blacked out goggles.
"We haven't been skiing [with blacked out goggles] in the training, but that's hopefully an option for the future," she said.
"Maybe once our team has bonded a bit more, we'll trust each other to have a go. I'm a bit nervous, obviously. But I think if we train, we could do it."
Poland's Anna Kosinska won the bronze medal in the Women's Slalom Visually Impaired.