“It has attracted a lot of world class athletes and, with only 200 days to Sochi, it’s the perfect opportunity for me to measure where I’m at compared to the rest of the field.”
Monday (19 August) marked 200 days to go before the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, and athletes are training hard to gain an early advantage as the IPC Alpine Skiing season begins on Thursday (22 August) in New Zealand.
The IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup will kick off as a part of the Winter Games New Zealand in Coronet Peak.
Adam Hall and Carl Murphy are two members of the New Zealand team hoping to qualify for Sochi 2014. Both men are now resident in Wanaka after spending their early lives in Mosgiel and New Plymouth respectively.
Hall is the reigning Paralympic Winter gold medallist in slalom while snowboard-cross racer Murphy, for whom Sochi will hopefully be his first Paralympics, finished the northern hemisphere season ranked No. 1 in the world and took bronze at a World Cup race in March which doubled as a test event for the Sochi Games.
Hall competes in back-to-back IPC Alpine Slalom World Cups at Coronet Peak near Queenstown. He said having a World Cup on his home snow is a fantastic opportunity to build for Sochi where he plans to compete in both slalom and super-combined events.
“It has attracted a lot of world class athletes and, with only 200 days to Sochi, it’s the perfect opportunity for me to measure where I’m at compared to the rest of the field,” he said.
“As a Paralympic medallist you naturally want to defend your title. The goal this time around is to be a bit greedier and to come home with more than one medal.”
Hall leaves New Zealand in November to head back to his base in Winter Park, Colorado in the USA.
He has a few US races and two IPC Alpine Skiing World Cups in Panorama and Copper Mountain before heading to a holding camp in Switzerland for acclimatisation and final touch-ups before heading to Sochi.
Fiona Allan, CEO of Paralympics New Zealand said the national winter squad’s preparations were progressing very well.
"New Zealand athletes are working hard to prepare,” she said. “To attract high calibre events such as the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cups to New Zealand during Winter Games NZ is invaluable. These events will provide the opportunity for New Zealand disabled athletes, including our Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games Gold Medallist Adam Hall to compete on home territory against the best in the world.”
In 2009, Murphy was the first para-snowboarder to be named to New Zealand’s national team. His sport of snowboard-cross, in which riders race against each other down a banked course with start gates and jumps, is not represented at the Winter Games New Zealand but he remains focused on his Paralympic goals.
“I’m concentrating on my training – the technical details and fundamental skills to make sure everything falls into place ahead of Sochi,” Murphy said.
“Not having any competitions during the northern hemisphere season is actually an advantage because there’s no stress. Rather than building up to different events I can concentrate purely on my training and my goal to podium in Sochi.”
In conjunction with the Winter Games New Zealand, Snowsports New Zealand will host another IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup event at Mt. Hutt from 26-27 August.