Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli served up a fantastic super-G to claim his maiden world title at his home 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio on Saturday (28 January), winning the men’s super combined visually impaired.
The home crowds held their breath as Bertagnolli made his way down the slalom course with guide Fabrizio Casal. But despite a fourth placed run the 18-year-old managed to clear Canada’s Mac Marcoux, guided by Jack Leitch, by 1.48 seconds overall.
Bertagnolli’s leading super-G secured his country’s first gold of the Championships ahead of Marcoux and Slovakia’s Jakub Krako, guided by Branislav Brozman, who finished with bronze.
Australia’s Mitchell Gourley and the Netherlands’ Jeroen Kampschreur also impressed with their first World titles.
Gourley got the gold, and first career medal, he has been searching for since making his debut in the men’s standing just over 10 years ago.
The 25-year-old had work to do after a sixth place super-G, but put on a masterclass in the slalom to secure the gold.
“[I feel] relieved, 100 per cent relieved,” Gourley said. “It took five times and finally I got one and I got to win which is pretty cool!”
On his hopes for the technical events on Monday (30 January) and Tuesday (31 January) Gourley continued: “I can have a crack in the GS [giant slalom] and slalom. They’re the two events I came here for anyway. Hopefully I can take some confidence from this.”
Switzerland’s Robin Cuche, nephew of Olympic skiing legend Didier, also reached his first career podium with silver. Austria’s Markus Salcher, the super-G and downhill world champion from earlier on in the week, was third.
The men’s sitting was dramatically left wide open after Germany’s world champion Georg Kreiter failed to finish his first run.
Seventeen-year-old Kampschreur was keen to capitalise in the slalom, posting the fastest time to step onto the top of his first Worlds podium.
“It feels great. I don’t think I realise it,” a visibly pleased Kampschreur said. “In the super combined I am a good slalom skier but the super-G is always hard for me. But this super-G was a good run. I knew I could get those guys in the slalom so it was awesome.
“I like technical disciplines, so the super-G and the downhill they were ok but I got some medals at the World Cup in slalom and giant slalom so I’m looking forward to that,” the teenager said of the rest of the competition.
Japanese skiers Taiki Morii and Takeshi Suzuki, with a combined three Paralympic Winter Games between them, collected silver and bronze respectively.
Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova was delighted to reclaim her World Championships gold from 2011 in the women’s visually impaired, adding to her downhill silver from Wednesday (25 January).
Farkasova left the gate looking determined, attacking the course at every turn. She then embraced guide Natalia Subrtova in the finish area after her second leading run, clearly relieved to be back at the top of the podium.
The Slovakian finished ahead of Great Britain’s new downhill world champion Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild.
The USA’s Staci Mannella, guided by Sadie de Baun, claimed her first Worlds medal with bronze.
France’s Paralympic champion Marie Bochet continued her unbeaten run in Tarvisio, retaining her world title in the women’s standing.
It is was Bochet’s third gold of the competition, and the 22-year-old looks in great shape to also retain her giant slalom and slalom golds on Monday and Tuesday.
Germany’s Paralympic silver medallist Andrea Rothfuss was second. Canada’s Alana Ramsey grappled with the slalom but still left with bronze thanks to her super-G run.
Rothfuss’ Paralympic champion compatriot Anna Schaffelhuber doubled her gold medal collection from the competition in the women’s sitting, diving towards the finish line in the slalom.
But the 2015 silver medallist had to rely on her leading super-G run to finish ahead of Austria’s defending champion Claudia Loesch.
Schaffelhuber’s teammate Anna-Lena Forster posted the fastest slalom, enabling her to grab bronze after a fourth placed super-G.
Austria sit at the top of the medals table ahead of the technical events, with three gold, two silver and one bronze medal. France are chasing hard with three golds and one silver, followed by Canada with two golds, three silver and two bronze medals.
Full results are available at Tarvisio2017.com.
Giant slalom will be contested next on Monday, followed by the slalom on Tuesday. All races are being shown live, alongside live results, at Tarvisio2017.com.
Right free pictures for editorial use are available for download at Flickr.
Broadcast quality race footage is also available on request by contacting [email protected]
The competition can also be followed on Facebook.com/ParaAlpine, Twitter and Instagram (@ParaAlpine).