World champions Claudia Loesch and Matthias Lanzinger will headline the IPC Alpine Skiing Europa Cup in Matrei from Friday (16 January) for hosts Austria, alongside over 90 athletes from 18 countries.
Super-combined, slalom and giant slalom races will take place as athletes continue their preparations for the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, Canada.
Super-combined and giant slalom world champion Loesch has made it onto the women’s sitting podium eight times so far in 2014-15 in World and Europa Cup races, most recently with three top three finishes at a World Cup in La Molina, Spain.
The men’s races will feature a head-to-head between Japanese teammates, super-combined and giant slalom world champion Taiki Morii and slalom Paralympic champion Takeshi Suzuki.
Also in the mix are Austria’s 2013 Worlds bronze medallist Dietmar Dorn and American Tyler Walker, a double NorAm Cup winner.
The men’s standing will see super-combined world champion Lanzinger meet Paralympic champion, Alexey Bugaev. Having lost out to the 17-year-old at Sochi 2014 by just over one second, Lanzinger will be looking to assess Bugaev’s form after they both failed to finish at their first meeting in December.
Bugaev’s teammate Alexander Alyabyev currently leads the Europa Cup rankings for slalom, whilst Austria’s Thomas Grochar heads the super-combined rankings.
The women’s standing field will see German Andrea Rothfuss, a winner of four Europa Cup slalom and giant slalom races so far this season, take on Russian rival Inga Medvedeva.
Medvedeva skied to first place in the first super-combined race in December, showing her form ahead of Panorama 2015.
Few skiers have had a better start to their 2014-15 campaign than Russia’s Valerii Redkozubov and guide Evgeny Geroev in the men’s visually impaired.
With eight World and Europa wins now under their belts, super-combined and slalom Paralympic champion Redkozubov is the favourite once again. But Slovakian teammates Jakub Krako, guided by Martyn Motyka, and Miroslav Haraus with guide Maros Hudik, have both had podium success this season.
Australian Melissa Perrine and guide Andrew Bor make their Europa and World Cup season debut in the women’s visually impaired.
Races begin in Matrei with super-combined on Friday (16 January), continuing with giant slalom on Saturday (17 January) and concluding with slalom on Sunday (18 January).
Panorama 2015 runs from 28 February - 10 March and will feature 130 athletes from 30 countries in the biggest gathering of alpine skiers since the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.