Russia swept gold in the men’s and women’s standing races at the second Europa Cup of the 2020-21 season as its athletes readjusted to being back on skis after an extended off season.
Two giant slalom races were held in Kaunertal, Austria from 2 to 4 December with 39 athletes taking part.
Russia’s Varvara Voronchikhina and Aleksei Bugaev made it two out of two in the standing races, improving on their results from the previous weekend’s Europa Cup in Resterhohe, Austria. There each of the athletes finished only one of the two races.
“The season did not start very well for us in the sense that we missed several ski camps, which were supposed to start at the end of this summer. All of this, of course, is due to the pandemic,” Voronchikhina said. “I haven’t stood on skis for about eight months and this affected my preparation in general.”
Voronchikhina beat German skiers Anna-Maria Rieder - the double gold medallist in Resterhohe - and Andrea Rothfuss. Rieder finished the Kaunertal races with two silvers while Rothfuss added two bronze medals to her silver and bronze from the season’s opener.
“I am not very happy with the last races even though I won two giant slaloms in Kaunertal, where the weather conditions were rather difficult,” Voronchikhina added. “There was a big snowfall the night before the race and the slope was not as hard as one would hope. I think I didn’t have enough training before the races, and there is still a lot of work to be done.”
More sibling success
Voronchikhina’s teammate, three-time Paralympic champion Aleksei Bugaev also battled with the heavy snowfall - and strong winds - to take two gold medals in the men’s standing class. Bugaev outraced the host nation’s Nico Pajantschitsch and Thomas Grochar, who took two silver and two bronze, respectively.
Meanwhile, Austria’s Aigner siblings continued their winning streak in the vision impaired races.
Resterhohe’s double gold medallists Johannes Aigner and his guide Matteo Fleischmann won another two gold medals in Kaunertal. His older sister Veronika Aigner repeated the feat in the women’s races, each time getting more than a 10-second lead over the runner-up.
In Kaunertal Veronika was skiing with another substitute guide, Sascha Kavelar. Her substitute in Resterhohe was Eric Digruber who stepped in after the skier’s traditional guide, sister Elisabeth Aigner, suffered a fall ahead of the first races.
Johannes Aigner’s twin sister, Barbara, took silver in the second women’s race.
Anna-Lena Forster of Germany took two gold medals in the women’s sitting class, while Slovenia’s Jernej Slivnik upgraded his two bronze from Resterhohe to two gold in Kaunertal.
The next stage of the Europa Cup will be held from 16 to 19 December in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Medals will be contested in two slalom and two giant slalom races with live results available on the World Para Alpine Skiing website.