World Championships medallists Anna Jochemsen of the Netherlands and Austria’s Claudia Loesch are amongst the skiers ready to race slalom in the opening IPC Alpine Skiing Europa Cup in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, on Thursday (17 November).
Jochemsen represents the host country as the women’s super combined standing bronze medallist from the 2015 World Championships in Panorama, Canada.
In January, Jochemsen will get the chance to maintain and improve on her performance at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy.
“My goal is to be on the podium several times,” Jochemsen said of her goals for the season. “You never know how everybody is doing; what everybody did [during the off season]; and how it worked out. So there’s some kind of uncertainty. I’m certain what I did is good, but will it be good enough? I don’t know.”
Switzerland’s Bigna Schmidt is the returning Europa Cup champion from 2015-16 and will challenge Jochemsen.
In the men’s standing Schmidt’s teammate Thomas Pfyl also begins a season in which he will defend a super-G bronze medal from Panorama 2015.
Austria’s Martin Wuerz is one of his main competitors, having won the Europa Cup globe in 2015-16.
Wuerz’s compatriot Loesch is back competing in the women’s sitting. The Austrian was involved in a car accident during last season, putting her out of action.
Loesch is the slalom world champion and will face Dutch Europa Cup champion Linda van Impelen.
France’s Frederic Francois finished third in the overall men’s sitting Europa Cup rankings last time out, and is back in Landgraaf to begin his 2016-17 campaign. He is also a super-G and super combined Worlds medallist.
Headlining the women’s visually impaired is Australia’s Melissa Perrine.
Perrine finished on the podium in all her events at the 2015 World Championships, including three golds in the downhill, super-G and super combined with guide Andrew Bor.
Great Britain’s super-G Paralympic champion Kelly Gallagher returns, this time with new guide Gary Smith.
The USA’s multiple Worlds and Paralympic medallist Danelle Umstead makes her season debut with husband guide Rob.
Rounding off a deep field is Belgium’s Europa Cup champion Eleonor Sana with guide Chloe Sana.
On the men’s visually impaired side, Austria’s Gernot Morgenfurt returns having collected second place in the Europa Cup last season with guide Christoph Peter Gmeiner.
Poland’s Maciej Krezel also stormed to a top five finish alongside guide Anna Ogarzynska.
Competition in Landgraaf features two Europa Cup races between 17-18 November with around 70 athletes from 20 countries.
Results will be available at IPC Alpine Skiing’s website.
Updates will be posted to @paralpine’s Facebook and Twitter.
The Tarvisio 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships will see the world’s best skiers take to the slopes between 22-31 January.