With just over one month to go before para-snowboard makes its Paralympic Winter Games debut in Sochi, around 40 of the world’s best para-snowboarders will gather in la Molina, Spain, from Monday (10 February) for the IPCAS Snowboard World Cup Final.
The competition is the last event on the calendar before Sochi 2014 and the riders from the World Cup top five are set to be in action including the Netherlands’s Bibian Mentel-Spee. The 41-year-old has completely dominated the World Cup circuit this season, winning all five races she has entered against American rival Amy Purdy.
Purdy currently sits at No.2 in the World Cup standings, narrowly leading Mentel-Spee’s teammate Lisa Bunschoten.
The American presence in La Molina will include Heidi Jo Duce and Nicole Roundy, both of whom were recently nominated to the US team heading to Sochi and make up the rest of the top five in the World Cup rankings.
In the men’s lower-limb impairment races, US teammates Michael Shea and world champion Evan Strong currently share the overall world lead, but Shea leads the World Cup rankings following four wins so far. They are also on the Sochi team sheet along with equal fifth-placed Keith Gabel, the final American male to make up the trio referred to as ‘the three amigos’.
European male snowboarders have also been putting up a good fight with flying Fin Matti Suur-Hamari in a three-way fight for World Cup fourth place with Belgium's Denis Colle and Gabel. Suur-Hamari has recently overtaken Colle as the highest ranked European rider in the world.
Canada’s John Leslie meanwhile, who only debuted in 2013 and in his first year on the World Cup circuit, sits third following several impressive podium finishes.
In the men’s upper limb-impairment races, American Marc Dervaes is looking to cement his World Cup No.1 status.
Races at the IPCAS Snowboard World Cup Finals start in La Molina from 10-12 February. Pictures will be available at the IPC's Flickr page and updates will be posted to IPC Alpine Skiing's Facebook page and @IPCAlpine on Twitter.
Para-snowboard will appear on the Paralympic Winter Games programme for the very first time in Sochi 2014 with the snowboard-cross discipline for athletes with lower limb impairments taking place on Friday, 14 March.