“11 years later we are skiing on the same hill as my 1st international skiing competition. Best way to celebrate, get 3rd in the GS World Cup.”
The sun was shining, the snow compact and the competition broad with 12 nations winning podium positions in six events on the first day of the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup in Sestriere, Italy.
Austria had the most successful day, with former Olympic skier Matthias Lanzinger coming second in the men’s standing and Claudia Loesch taking the top spot in the women’s sitting giant slalom event.
The men’s and women’s giant slalom standing as well as the men’s visually impaired races were the closest, with less than half a second between the top two finishers.
In the men’s visually impaired, Spain’s Yon Santacana Maiztegui (2:14.96), guided by M Galindo Garces came first, just 0.02 seconds ahead of Canada’s Chris Williamson (2:14.98), who had a slower second run.
"It was good to finally finish a giant slalom in Sestriere and have such a competitive race where the blink of an eye makes all the difference," said the Canadian.
His teammate Mac Marcoux (2:17.37) was just behind in third, guided by his brother Bj Marcoux. Russia’s Valery Redkozubov, who ranked first in the discipline last season, finished fourth.
Austria’s Matthias Lanzinger, who won the able-bodied European Cup in the 2003/04 season, fought back after coming third on the first run to take second place in 2:10.94. Lanzinger had his leg amputated below the knee after a skiing accident in 2008. Lanzinger was just 0.41 seconds behind Australia’s Mitch Gourley, whose super-fast first run, allowed him to clinch gold. His teammate Toby Kane (2:12.51) was third. Russia’s Alexandr Alyabyev, who was also a strong podium contender, crashed out on the second run, whilst France’s Vincent Gauthier-Manuel, world No. 1 last season, finished a disappointing fifth.
In the women’s giant slalom, France’s Marie Bochet (2:19.43) had the two fastest runs, but Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss (2:19.85), who topped the rankings in the event last season, was hot on her heels. She finished just 0.42 seconds behind Bochet. The two of them are set to battle it out for gold over the rest of the season. USA’s dual summer and winter athlete Allison Jones (2:28.15) came third.
“11 years later we are skiing on the same hill as my 1st international skiing competition. Best way to celebrate, get 3rd in the GS World Cup,” Jones tweeted from @Jonezyrocks.
France’s Solene Jambaque, one to watch this season, crashed out on the first run.
Switzerland’s Christoph Kunz (2:12.18) powered ahead in the men’s sitting event to take gold, re-establishing his dominance in the discipline after he topped the rankings last season. Top contender Taiki Morii (2:14.52) of Japan had a disappointing first run to finish third overall, despite having the fastest second run. Germany’s Georg Kreiter (2:14.11) held on to silver.
In the women’s sitting event Austria’s Claudia Loesch (2:26.47) dominated with the two fastest runs. Germany’s Anna Schaffelhuber (2:28.93) was second and USA’s Alana Nichols (2:30.05), who was part of her country’s wheelchair basketball team at London 2012, took bronze.
“Got myself a podium!!! 3rd place in today's giant slalom! Tomorrows another one... #Harder #faster #stronger,” she tweeted from @alananichols21.
Canada’s Kimberly Joines, who was also a medals contender in the women’s sitting event, crashed out on the second run.
Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova (2:26.10) guided by Natalia Surbtova won the women’s visually impaired race. Last season’s No. 1 ranked skier in the discipline Alexandra Frantseva (2:31.98) of Russia was second with guide Pavel Zabotin. Great Britain’s Kelly Gallagher (2:40.95) guided by Charlotte Evans was in third place.
The competition continues on 9 January with the second giant slalom race.