After missing most of last season due to a leg injury, Austria’s Claudia Loesch is ready to make an immediate impact in Para alpine skiing when the Europa Cup moves to Austria ahead of the first World Cup of the season from 12 December.
“My coach and everyone is telling me, ‘Hey, Claudia, take it easy. It’s going to work out eventually,’” Loesch said. “But I’m like, ‘Eventually, yes, but I want it now.’”
The 28-year-old opened her season in November with a Europa Cup victory in the women’s slalom sitting in Landgraaf, the Netherlands. She anticipates she will get even faster as the season progresses.
The Innsbruck native will have an opportunity to do so on new skis. Last year, she traded in her old sit-ski for a new model. The new ski, she said, is less compact, giving her better control and positioning.
The three-time Paralympian will look to continue her reign in a pair of home events in Pitztal and Kuhtai in December. Pitztal is the second Europa Cup of the season whilst Kuhtai is the first World Cup. Both competitions will feature slalom and giant slalom.
“A World Cup victory in my comeback season: awesome,” she said. “The terrain doesn’t play well with my strengths. It’s a little too flat and rhythmic.
“All that put together, a win in Kuhtai would be a great Christmas present to myself!"
Loesch could be kept on her toes by Germany’s five time Paralympic champion Anna Schaffelhuber.
Schaffelhuber managed to pull away with a sweep of gold medals at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Loesch took silver in the super-G and giant slalom, but responded with three golds at the 2015 World Championships.
Loesch said she usually practices with her rival two to four times per season. This season, though, they spent two entire camps, or about eight snow days, together. Loesch said it looks like they are about even right now.
“She barely ever makes mistakes,” Loesch said.
The duo’s rivalry will be a focal point between 22-31 January for the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy.
Loesch, behind her determination, wants to defend her titles.
“If I actually defend all titles, that’d be terrific, especially winning the slalom would be a huge surprise,” she said. “I’m still aiming for three golds, though. I definitely want to defend the downhill and maybe grab the giant slalom and super-G, too.”
The Europa Cup runs from 12-13 December in Pitztal, followed by the opening World Cup in Kuhtai from 15-17 December.
The 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships will be the last major gathering of the world’s best skiers before PyeongChang 2018.
Media accreditation is available at the Tarvisio 2017 website.