Brazil’s Cristian Ribera proved that a lack of snow does not prevent a country from producing Para cross-country talents when he finished in sixth place in the men’s long distance sitting at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Now Brazil is searching for new athletes to join Ribera in the next World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup and is using rollerski for that. On Sunday (14 October), the city of Sao Carlos hosts the second Para Rollerski National Cup.
“The competition is really important for our preparations and to inspire us to train hard to achieve better results,” said Ribera.
At only 15, he was the youngest athlete in PyeongChang. His sixth place was his country’s best result ever at a Winter Olympic or Paralympic Games.
Although there is no snow around, Ribera says he enjoys rolling down the streets of the Parque Eco Esportivo Damha.
“It is always a nice experience to compete in this sport, it is quite cool,” he added.
Ribera won the sitting events in the first National Cup in July also in Sao Carlos. The other Brazilian competing in cross-country in PyeongChang, Aline Rocha, won the women’s sitting events.
A total of 18 athletes took part in the competition which also counted with a three-day World Para Nordic Skiing classifier course.
“I was positively surprised to see so many athletes and also the level of the participants. I am sure we will have more skiers joining us in future international competitions,” said Rocha, who also competes in Para athletics and recently finished sixth in the Chicago Marathon.
The second National Cup will finish on Monday and the final rankings will be used to select the Brazilian skiers going to the World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland, in December.
But the plans in Brazil are a bit more ambitious.
“In a tropical country like Brazil, rollerski is even more important and we are proud of our National Cup. [It is] one of our best tools to develop Para cross-country skiing aiming a Paralympic medal in 2026-2030,” said Stefano Arnhold, President of Brazil’s Snow Sports Federation.