Five women skiers to look-out for in 2015-16

An increasingly young field is beginning to bear fruit, whilst established rivalries continue to simmer. 09 Sep 2015
Laura Valeanu of Romania competes in the Women's Slalom 1st Run - Standing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Laura Valeanu of Romania competes in the Women's Slalom 1st Run - Standing at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

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By Edith Carmichael | for the IPC

Whilst the likes of France’s Marie Bochet was winning her 11th consecutive world title at the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, a few other faces and compelling rivalries were emerging elsewhere in the women’s field.

Following on from their performances over the past two seasons, here are five faces to look out for in the 2015-16 IPC Alpine Skiing season.

Anna-Lena Forster, Germany

With the eyes of the world on her multiple world and Paralympic champion teammate Anna Schaffelhuber, Forster has quietly been making an impact in the women’s sit-ski.

At just 20-years-old and two years after her international debut, Forster won two silvers and a bronze medal at Sochi 2014.

Had she not had a slow second slalom run at the Worlds in Panorama, Canada, Forster would also have won her first world title having gone more than two seconds quicker in the first round against Schaffelhuber and Austrian rival Claudia Loesch.

In the end Forster left with bronze, nonetheless adding more depth to an incredibly competitive field.

Claudia Loesch, Austria

Sit skier Loesch and her German rival Anna Schaffelhuber have had an exciting battle at World Championships and Paralympic Games since they first went head to head in Vancouver in 2010, with Loesch finishing just ahead in the super-G.

Four years later, Schaffelhuber took glory when she won all five golds on offer at Sochi 2014.

In Panorama, Loesch took home the gold medals in the downhill, super combined and slalom and Schaffelhuber won the super-G and giant slalom.

After a promising performance at this year’s World Championships, could Loesch claim all five top spots in the near future? Or will Forster emerge as the new threat? Heading into a new season, the competition remains as prominent as ever.

Stephanie Jallen, USA

Standing skier Stephanie Jallen melted the hearts of spectators around the world when she threw away her crutches and hopped onto the podium at Sochi 2014 to claim her first Paralympic medal.

Adding to her super-G bronze, the 19-year-old went onto win the same colour in the super-combined. A relaxed yet determined Jallen then travelled to the 2015 Worlds with the aim of cementing her progress, and left with a third place in the giant slalom.

This youngster has re-committed to the sport after supposedly considering retirement. There could be a lot left to come from the bubbly teenager as she grows into her potential.

Laura Valeanu, Romania

Valeanu made history at Vancouver 2010 by becoming the first Romanian athlete to qualify for a Paralympic Winter Games.

In the intervening years, the now 25-year-old standing skier has spent time working on her technique. From a 14th place and non-finish at Vancouver to fifth and seventh on the challenging slopes at Sochi 2014, the former junior able-bodied skier began to make an impact, particularly in the technical events.

Her hard work paid off at the World Championships where she made it onto the podium for her first major medal with bronze in the slalom.

Melissa Perrine, Australia

Australian skier, Melissa Perrine, came away from the World Championships in Panorama with a trio of world titles, silver in the slalom and bronze in the giant slalom alongside guide Andrew Bor.

At the last Paralympic Games, Perrine finished fourth in the downhill event but was unable to finish three of her events and received a disappointing disqualification in the other.

Putting all that in the past, it seems Perrine is working hard to get to the top and is definitely one to watch out for this season.

The 2015-16 IPC Alpine Skiing season is already underway with development races in Argentina to come in September. The high-level racing begins in November with the first Europa Cup in Landgraaf, the Netherlands from 19-20 November.