Opening speed World Cup set for Innerkrems

Athletes will aim to test themselves with just days to go until the 2017 World Championships. 10 Jan 2017
Akira Kano

Japan's Akira Kano won the men's downhill sitting race on Day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

ⒸGetty Images

The first World Cup speed races of the season will get underway in Innerkrems, Austria, on Wednesday (11 January), offering skiers the chance to hone their skills in super combined, super-G and downhill ahead of the 2017 World Championships.

Live results will be available at the World Para Alpine Skiing website.

In an exciting start to the calendar year, a host of world and Paralympic champions will compete including the first World Cup appearance of the season for New Zealand’s Corey Peters.

Peters, the downhill and super-G world champion, will take on a men’s sitting field that includes Japan’s Akira Kano, the Paralympic gold medallist from both events.

Germany’s Georg Kreiter, fresh from podium success in technical World Cups already this season, lines up as the super combined world title holder.

In the women’s sitting, top three finishers from the 2015 World Championships in Panorama, Canada, will feature.

Austria’s downhill and super combined title holder Claudia Loesch will face Germany’s super-G world champion Anna Schaffelhuber. They will be joined by Japan’s Momoka Muraoka, and the USA’s Laurie Stephens, both of whom claimed medals two years ago in Canada.

Loesch’s downhill and super-G Paralympic champion teammate Markus Salcher will get the chance to assess his speed form in the men’s standing. However his teammate Thomas Grochar has had a good start to his season and currently leads the men’s slalom standing World Cup.

Switzerland’s Thomas Pfyl is also a contender as he looks to improve on his super-G Worlds bronze medal from 2015.

Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss and a series of other women’s standing skiers will welcome their first speed races.

Rothfuss, the super combined Paralympic silver medallist from 2014, and the USA’s bronze medallist Stephanie Jallen will go head-to-head. Dutch skier Anna Jochemsen is also in the mix as the third place finisher from the 2015 Worlds.

A clutch of the world’s current best skiers highlight the men’s visually impaired. Canadian downhill world title holder Mac Marcoux, guided by Jack Leitch, will be joined on the slopes by Slovakia’s super combined world champion Miroslav Haraus with guide Maros Hudik.

Spain’s downhill Paralympic gold medallist Jon Santacana Maiztegui, with guide Miguel Galindo, will go for his first speed win of 2016-17 having returned to the top of podium in a technical World Cup already. Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli, the super-G and downhill World Cup runner-up from last season with guide Fabrizio Casal, also enters the fray.

The women’s visually impaired will be equally as competitive.

The British trio of Millie Knight, guided by Brett Wild; Kelly Gallagher and guide Gary Smith; and Menna Fitzpatrick guided by Jen Kehoe, share countless victories and medals across all levels.

Gallagher is the super-G Paralympic champion whilst teenagers Knight and Fitzpatrick have enjoyed multiple World Cup podium finishes.

Slovakia’s downhill Paralympic gold medallist Henrieta Farkasova, guided by Natalia Subrtova, will aim to break the British dominance.

The Innerkrems World Cup gets underway with downhill training on Wednesday (11 January), followed by two separate downhill races on Thursday and Friday (12-13 January). Super-G will take place on Saturday (14 January), before super combined concludes competition on Sunday (15 January).

There will then be a slalom and giant slalom World Cup in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, from 18-20 January.

The 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships get underway in Tarvisio, Italy, on 22 January, featuring 140 skiers from 30 countries in the last major competition ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.