The world’s best para-snowboarders have arrived in La Molina, Spain, for the start of the 2015 IPC Para-Snowboard World Championships, which get underway on Monday (23 February) with the Opening Ceremony.
Forty-two riders from 18 countries will compete in the revised snowboard-cross format of head-to-head and the new discipline of banked slalom in upper-limb and lower-limb impairment classifications.
At the Opening Ceremony on Monday evening, Sir Philip Craven, IPC President, will officially open the Championships.
Sir Philip will speak about the rapid progress of the sport since its electric debut at Sochi 2014 just under one year ago, including the expansion of the sports programme and the separation of the lower-limb impaired class into two.
He will also recognise the pioneering achievements of the athletes who worked alongside their national governing bodies to get para-snowboard into the Paralympic Winter Games, some of whom will be competing in La Molina.
They include the Netherlands’ Paralympic champion Bibian Mentel-Spee who has once again been a dominant force of the snowboard-cross and banked slalom World Cup circuit in 2014-15, winning all of her races in the new women’s lower-limb class SB-LL2.
Australian Joany Badenhorst has made it onto the World Cup podium next to Mentel-Spee and her 19-year-old teammate Lisa Bunschoten, alongside the USA’s Heidi-Jo Duce. Astrid Fina will be representing the hosts.
The men’s equivalent will see a trio of US athletes look to repeat their sweep from Sochi 2014. Paralympic champion Evan Strong, silver medallist Mike Shea and bronze medallist Keith Gabel are all set to appear in a highly competitive field, recently described by Shea as ‘stacked’.
Whilst the three men have been exchanging places on the podium all season, amongst those who have also broken into the top three include Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari. Canada’s John Leslie should not be discounted whilst Argentina continue their growth in the sport with Carlos Codina.
The women’s SB-LL1 will see French Sochi 2014 silver medallist Cecile Hernandez-Cervellon take on US teammates Nicole Roundy and Brenna Huckaby, both of whom have shown their potential in banked slalom and boardercross in 2014-15.
Headlining the men’s field will be Dutch banked slalom World No.1 Chris Vos and snowboard-cross top three rider, Italian Giuseppe Comunale. Danish track and field Paralympic medallist Daniel Jorgensen has also impressed with a World Cup podium in his first competitive season on snow.
Equally as nail-biting are the men’s upper-limb impaired events.
With a 100 per cent unbeaten record in snowboard-cross head-to-head, Great Britain’s Ben Moore has hit his form this season.
Austrian Patrick Mayrhofer has emerged as a one to watch in banked slalom, having taken victory in the first ever World Cup event in November.
Races kick off in La Molina on Tuesday (24 February) with snowboard-cross for all classifications, followed by banked slalom on Saturday (28 February).
Live results and a livestream will be available at www.LaMolina2015.com. Updates will be posted to IPC Alpine Skiing Facebook page and Twitter, as well as @Paralympics Instagram.