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Riders ready to make history

Three top snowboarders to look out for during the 2013/13 season build up to Sochi 2014. 08 Oct 2013
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A picture of a woman jumping with a snowboard

USA's Amy Purdy will definitely be one to watch at snowboard's Paralympic Games debut in Sochi in 2014.

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By IPC

Those featured are amongst the most successful para-snowboarders on the circuit and have been at the forefront of developing the sport in recent times through their incredible clutch of victories both on and off the snow.

With 150 days to go until snowboard’s first appearance at a Paralympic Winter Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has named three para-snowboarders as Ones to Watch in the season leading up to Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics.

Those featured are amongst the most successful para-snowboarders on the circuit and have been at the forefront of developing the sport in recent times through their incredible clutch of victories both on and off the snow.

American 2012 para-snowboard cross world champion Evan Strong will start as favourite for Paralympic gold in Sochi, especially after winning gold in March’s Sochi Test Event. He is also a seven-time World Cup gold medallist, but will be challenged by team-mate Mike Shea and New Zealand’s Carl Muprhy, who was recently named Athlete of the Year by Snowsports New Zealand.

Strong is a protégé of team-mate Amy Purdy, who herself makes the list. Purdy has won three World Cup titles in a career which has also seen her found her own not-for-profit organisation, Adaptive Action Sports, to help others into sport, art and music. The 33 year-old will be hoping to make history by becoming the first female Paralympic gold medallist in para-snowboard cross, and if Strong medals too, it will be a double victory for the woman who has made an incredible contribution to snowboarding.

Rounding off the three boarders is Dutch rider Bibian Mentel, a six-time national champion in half-pipe and snowboard cross. Mentel was well on her way to qualifying for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games when she lost her lower right leg to cancer. Within four months of that operation she was back riding and became national champion soon after.

In 2013, Mentel won the women’s race at the snowboard-cross Sochi Test Event with a time that would have placed her in second in the men’s event. She is one of Amy Purdy’s closest rivals heading into Sochi and the two will be racing hard to make history from 7 March when the Paralympics begin.

Mentel has set-up her own not-for-profit in the Mentelity Foundation which aims to encourage children with an impairment to get involved in sport.

The season kicks off for riders on 21-22 November with a Europa Cup in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, followed by the first World Cup event in Copper, USA on 19-20 January 2014.

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