“So far everything is awesome, the track is super fun."
Wins by Germany’s Anna Schaffelhuber, Austria’s Markus Salcher and Canada’s Mac Marcoux on Sunday (12 March), the opening day of the World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals in PyeongChang, South Korea, was enough for the trio to secure the season ending downhill World Cup titles.
The World Cup Finals are doubling up as a Test Event for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and it was Salcher who arguably had the hardest race of the day in the men’s standing.
The 25-year-old, who claimed his second downhill world title earlier this year, was fastest down the 650m vertical drop finishing just 0.33 seconds ahead of Canada’s Alexis Guimond in second. Salcher’s teammate Christoph Schneider completed the podium.
“It’s cool to win the test event here because next year it’s the Paralympic Games,” said Salcher. “It’s a cool track, I felt pretty comfortable here, pretty well here, and I hope that I can show it again next year.
“There are some parts of the track to work on during the summer, where maybe I can do it better next year, but overall I’m satisfied,” he added.
Anna Schaffelhuber led a German one-two in the women’s sitting with a dominant display, finishing 3.76 seconds ahead of Anna-Lena Forster. Japan’s Momoka Muraoka was third.
“I think I had pretty good turns in this race today,” said Schaffelhuber who won three world titles, including the downhill, back in January. “I had two parts that were not that good where the line was not that perfect, but all in all I’m happy with it.
“I’m pretty happy to have a good run here because before the races here I was a little nervous. I didn’t know how the course would be or how good I am and how the course fits with my performance. So I am happy with it. That’s a good feeling and now I’m looking forward to next year.”
Canada’s Mac Marcoux was the most successful skier at January’s World Para Alpine Skiing World Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, scooping four of the five world titles on offer. On Sunday, the 19-year-old, together with guide Jack Leitch, won the men’s visually impaired to retain the World Cup title in the event for a third successive season.
“Overall we’re recently excited at how the day went,” said Marcoux. “We’re kind of taking advantage of this year as more of a training run for next year. The end result really didn’t matter as much it was just getting familiar with the track. Coming out with first, we’re really excited.
“So far everything is awesome, the track is super fun,” added Marcoux about his time so far in PyeongChang.
Italy’s Giacoma Bertagnolli, guided by Fabrizio Casal, took second in the race, followed by Slovakia’s Miroslav Haraus, guided by Maros Hudik, in third.
The women’s visually impaired was won by Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova guided by Natalia Subrtova. Although world champion Millie Knight, guided by Brett Wild, finished second it was enough to secure the British skier the downhill World Cup title for the season. Australia’s Melissa Perrine, guided by Andrew Bor, finished third in Sunday’s race.
France’s Marie Bochet showed she is back to her blistering best with a convincing win in the women’s standing. The 23-year-old finished 2.45 seconds ahead of Canada’s Alana Ramsay who can take consolation from the fact that her second place secured her the World Cup downhill title. The Netherlands’ Anna Jochemsen was third down the hill.
Finally, the men’s sitting saw Japanese skiers finish first and third. Takai Morii topped the podium with teammate Akira Kano joining him on the third step. Austria’s Roman Rabl split the two by finishing second.
Despite not finishing Sunday’s race, the USA’s Andrew Kurka claimed the downhill World Cup title for the season.
Skiers are back in action on Tuesday (14 March) when they compete in super-combined and the World Cup Final will run until 18 March.
The PyeongChang 2018 Test Event series also includes the World Cup Finals for Para snowboard and the penultimate Para Nordic skiing World Cup. Around 240 snow sports athletes from 31 countries will compete, the biggest ever gathering of winter Para athletes outside of the Paralympic Winter Games.
Live results, athlete quotes and pictures will be available here.