Fully recovered from severe injuries he sustained last year, Dino Sokolovic secured his first World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup win in 23 months in the men’s slalom sitting on the final day of competition (22 December) in Kuhtai, Austria.
The 29-year-old clocked an overall time of 1:49.21 to finish first ahead of the Netherlands’ three-time world champion Jeroen Kampschreur (1:50.09) and Norway’s Jesper Pedersen (1:50.53), who had achieved victory in each of the previous three races in Kuhtai.
The last World Cup race Sokolovic won was in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in January 2016.
He was hospitalised with knee and chest injuries following a fall during a race in Pitztal, Austria in December 2016 and therefore missed the Tarvisio 2017 World Championships. After such a successful comeback, the Croatian is now aiming high ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
“I feel very good, did not expect this victory. I am surprised because I suffered a severe injury last year and got slowly back to skiing. I was very bad in my previous races so I did not expect this at all. I am happy because I am back,” said Sokolovic.
Five-time Sochi 2014 gold medallist Anna Schaffelhuber (2:00.61) was the fastest in the women’s equivalent. The German finally topped the podium on the final day in Kuhtai and showed she will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the season.
Compatriot Anna-Lena Forster (2:01.23) finished second and could not add a second slalom gold to her haul in Kuhtai. Austria’s Claudia Loesch (2:05.05), who won both giant slalom races, completed the top-three.
Another skier who had to wait until the last day to celebrate gold was New Zealand’s Paralympic champion Adam Hall, who won the men’s slalom standing with an overall time of 1:43.19.
“I am really happy seeing the progressions as we continue to build up towards the Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea,” he said.
Neutral athlete Alexander Alyabyev (1:44.14) and Sweden’s Aaron Lindstrom (1:44.14) shared the second place as they clocked the same overall time.
Marie Bochet performed a clean sweep in Kuhtai as she stormed to a fourth gold among women after clocking an overall time of 1:53.61.
France’s multiple Paralympic and world champion has been the dominant force in the category for many years and shows no signs of slowing down in the build-up to PyeongChang 2018.
Germany’s Anna-Maria Rieder (2:00.40) came in second while neutral athlete Mariia Papulova (2:02.34) collected bronze.
In the slalom visually impaired races Slovakia´s multiple-Paralympic and world gold medallist Henrieta Farkasova (1:55.37), guided by Natalia Subrtova, achieved her third women’s gold in Kuhtai, her first in slalom.
She was followed by Germany’s Noemi Ewa Ristau (1:58.97) and guide Lucien Gerkau, and Great Britain’s Menna Fitzpatrick (1:59.09), guided by Jennifer Kehoe.
Canada’s four-time Tarvisio 2017 world champion Mac Marcoux, guided by Jack Leitch, clocked an overall time of 1:43.45 to win the men´s race. It was his second gold in Kuhtai.
Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli (1:43.91) and guide Fabrizio Casal, and neutral athlete Valerii Redkozubov (1:44.77), guided by Evgeny Geroev, completed the podium.
The next World Cup will take place in Zagreb-Sljeme, Croatia, between 8 and 9 January.
Live stream, race highlights and complete live results are available for the first time on a dedicated World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup website.
Broadcasters and news agencies interested in the 2018 World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup footage and interviews can contact Alexis Vapaille.