Skiers gather in PyeongChang to secure World Cup titles11.03.2017
The cream of the Para alpine skiing crop are eager to get a taste of the slopes for next year’s Paralympic Winter Games.
Nearly 100 athletes from 22 countries will take on the slopes of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games from Sunday (12 March), finishing the Para alpine skiing World Cup season in style in their search for crystal globes.
The Test Event for next year’s Paralympics will also act as the World Cup Finals. Skiers will race in all five technical and speed disciplines as well as for overall men’s and women’s titles in each classification.
Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova is going for a sweep of all events and the overall women’s visually impaired globe with guide Nataly Subrtova.
One of her main competitors is Great Britain’s new world champion Millie Knight in the downhill. Eighteen-year-old Knight has a 60 point lead over the Slovakian at the top of the standings with guide Brett Wild.
The British skier is also just 80 points behind Farkasova in the slalom, but could herself be overtaken by the USA’s Danelle Umstead and husband guide Rob.
In addition, two super-G races will be contested offering Umstead the chance to take the lead from Farkasova as the current second place sitter.
Knight is within touching distance of the overall women’s visually impaired crystal globe. A good performance could see her spoil a near perfect comeback season for Farkasova. The Slovakian claimed super-G, slalom, giant slalom and super combined world titles in Tarvisio, Italy, having been out injured since 2014.
An equally exciting climax is expected in the men’s visually impaired.
Slovakia’s multiple Worlds medallist Miroslav Haraus holds a top three place in the rankings across technical and speed events with guide Maros Hudik. The race to the top is especially close in the slalom where Haraus trails Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli and guide Fabrizio Casal by just 20 points. Haraus leads the super combined and super-G.
Canada’s Mac Marcoux returns after a successful World Championships where he swept every single event except the super combined. The 19-year-old is the World Cup leader in the downhill with guide Jack Leitch.
With 600 points on offer, world and Paralympic champions Anna Schaffelhuber of Germany and Austria’s Claudia Loesch will go for the overall women’s sitting titles.
But Schaffelhuber’s Paralympic slalom, super combined and giant slalom medallist teammate Anna-Lena Forster has enjoyed a great season. The German reached the podium twice at the Worlds, and her World Cup campaign has left her third in the overall rankings.
Japan’s Momoka Muraoka could also reach the final top three as well as improve her position in several individual events. In the super-G Muraoka is currently tied in second with Loesch just 40 points behind Schaffelhuber. The Japanese skier is in winning form having picked up maximum points on home snow in Hakuba on Monday (6 March).
Switzerland’s Christoph Kunz will hope to add the super-G title to his World Championships gold in the men’s sitting. However just five points behind is New Zealand’s Corey Peters.
Peters is also in the mix in the downhill behind the USA’s leader and world champion Andrew Kurka.
Dutch 17-year-old Jeroen Kampschreur, who bagged three golds from Tarvisio 2017, leads the slalom and is excited to assess the courses ahead of his Paralympic debut in 2018.
“I’m looking forward to the Test Event – if it’s steep. I am very curious about how the skiing is there,” Kampschreur said. “I like a technical course. It has to be pretty regular. I will try to get a medal at the Test Event; that will give me a lot of hope for the Paralympics.”
Austria’s triple Sochi 2014 Paralympic bronze medallist Roman Rabl tops the overall men’s sitting rankings,. But Japan’s Taiki Morii is close behind in second. Kampschreur is third with the rest of the top eight also in with a chance.
With the slalom and giant slalom winners already decided in the women’s standing, Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss is searching for the perfect end to her season.
World champion Rothfuss secured the giant slalom globe in Hakuba and leads the super-G and downhill heading into the finals.
Having taken the slalom crown, Canada’s Alana Ramsay will challenge the German from second place in the downhill.
In the men’s standing Austria’s Markus Salcher is searching for the overall title as well as the super-G and downhill crystal globes as the world and Paralympic champion.
Salcher will take on Australia’s Mitchell Gourley and Switzerland’s Thomas Grochar who sit second and third respectively in the overall standings. Just 100 points separate the top three.
In the women’s nation rankings, Germany lead the USA and Slovakia. In the men’s Austria, Slovakia and the USA occupy the top three.
The World Cup Finals and PyeongChang 2018 Test Event kicks off with the downhill on Sunday and runs until 18 March.
The 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.