Fierce rivalry set for IPC Alpine World Cup kick-off

The first event of the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup in Sestriere, Italy, promises strong competition between German and Japanese sit skiers and French and Russian standing skiers. 07 Jan 2013
Vincent Gauthier-Manuel competing

Vincent Gauthier-Manuel (FRA) competes in the Men's Standing Super Combined Super-G at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

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The IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup begins on Tuesday 8 January, with two giant slalom and two slalom races.

The IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup begins on Tuesday 8 January, with two giant slalom and two slalom races. More than 90 athletes from 19 nations will compete in sunny freeze-thaw snow conditions.

Last season USA topped the World Cup rankings closely followed by France and Russia. But with Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany, Japan and USA also sending strong teams, the stage is set for one of the most closely-fought seasons ever.

The men’s giant slalom standing will likely be a four-way battle between France’s Vincent Gauthier-Manuel, Australia’s Mitch Gourley, Switzerland’s Thomas Pfyl and Russia’s Alexandr Alyabyev, who dominated the slalom last season.

France’s Marie Bochet will be hoping to dominate the women’s standing slalom as she did last season, but Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss, who won the IPCAS Slalom race in Rinn, Austria, last week, is also on top form. France’s Solene Jambaque should also not be overlooked.

USA’s Alana Nichols will face tough competition in the women’s slalom sitting from Germany’s Anna Schaffelhuber and Canada’s Kimberly Joines. USA’s Laurie Stephens is expected to shine in the giant slalom. Earlier this month she won the event at the NORAM Cup in Winter Park, Colorado, USA, beating Nichols by one second.

The men’s sitting events will see the strongest skiers from Japan and Germany. Japan’s Taiki Morii is a top contender for the giant slalom top spot, whereas his teammate Takeshi Suzuki is one to watch for the slalom. USA’s Tyler Walker, who won the NORAM giant slalom race, is also a top contender.

The men’s visually impaired races will see fierce competition between Russia’s Valery Redkozubov, who topped the slalom and giant slalom rankings last year and Spain’s Yon Santacana Maiztegui.

Russia’s Alexandra Frantseva and Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova are expected to fight it out for first place in the women’s visually impaired events. The Slovakian is likely to have the edge in the slalom and the Russian in the giant slalom.

The competition continues until 11 January and will be a good indicator of which skiers are in form ahead of next month's IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain.

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