Paralympic Winter Games
12 - 21 March

Sestriere Poses Opportunity for New Stars Claims Waddell

04 Jan 2011

"There’s always going to be new competitions, new hills, and it is all different."

Four-time Paralympian Chris Waddell believes this month’s 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing World Championships in Sestriere, Italy is the perfect setting for budding skiers to make a big impact on the winter scene.

The multiple-medal winning American athlete who retired in 2002 after competing in all Paralympic Games from 1992-2002 is now an IPC Paralympian Ambassador spreading the word globally about the Paralympic Movement.

And with just days to go until the World Championships, Waddell has told that the stage is set for a number of unknown skiers to make a name for themselves in Sestriere following the retirement of some high profile individuals.

Chris Waddell said: “Certainly there is a lot of turnover and there are a lot of people that retire after a big event like the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

“Looking at that, there’s always that mystery of who are going to be the new people that are going to step up.

“Lauren Woolstencroft is somebody who was dominant in Vancouver and there’s a huge void right there.”

Woolstencroft was Canada’s star skier at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games taking five gold medals in Alpine Skiing before retiring soon after.

Chris Waddell said: “The question is who is going to fill that void?

“It’s an opportunity for people to start making their mark.

“There’s always going to be that turnover of those people who have been there forever and are no longer there.”

Whilst a number of the newcomers look to make an impact in Sestriere, Waddell has tipped Germany’s Gerd Schoenfelder to continue winning medals and believes established skiers need no extra motivation when it comes to competing.

Chris Waddell said: “Obviously you are going to have some people who are fixtures, like Gerd and people like that who have been there since 1992 and are certainly at the top of their game.”

“The motivation really is that there’s another opportunity to put a stamp on your career.

“There’s always going to be new competitions, new hills, and it is all different.

“For every athlete though, if you enjoy it and have fun, you’ll probably get your best result.”

Even though it’s less than a year since the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games Waddell believes a number of skiers may already have one eye on Sochi 2014 when they compete at the World Championships.

Chris Waddell said: “It’s a great opportunity for athletes to see how they are and how they perform when everyone is watching.

“You’re in this game to put yourself against the best people and figure out if you’re looking into going forward to Sochi and overall it’s a great barometer.”

More than 130 athletes from 27 countries expected to compete at the 2011 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, in what will be the biggest gathering of Paralympic Winter Sport since the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. The schedule includes Downhill, Giant Slalom, Slalom, Super-G, Super Combined and Team events and will take place from 15-23 January.

Competition will take place in the same Alpine Skiing venue which was used during the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.