The second and last Friday (11 March) of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will see the women’s giant slalom events take place at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre.
Three gold medals will be up for grabs and here are the favourites to take them home.
Japan’s Momoka Muraoka took five medals in five events at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics and the women’s giant slalom sitting event was her most unforgettable moment. It was Muraoka's first Paralympic gold medal and only one until the finished first in the women's downhill and super-G at Beijing 2022.
She followed that 2018 triumph with more success the following year at the World Championships in Kranjska Gora and Sella Nevea. Muraoka then switched sports to take part at the home Tokyo 2020 Summer Games in Para athletics. She did not compete at the World Championships in Lillehammer earlier this year but will defend her giant slalom title in China.
USA’s Laurie Stephens took gold in Lillehammer and will be heading to her fifth Paralympic Games. Two newcomers shared the podium with her in Norway, Canada’s Katherine Combaluzier (silver) and Great Britain’s Shona Brownlee (bronze). They both took three medals each at their Worlds debut and will be looking at a repeating the success in their first ever Games.
Germany's Anna-Lena Forster was the only sit-skier to beat Muraoka so far in this year's Games forcing the Japanese to settle for silver in the women's super-combined.
The giant slalom gave France’s Winter Games legend Marie Bochet her 30th major gold medal at Lillehammer 2021 in January. Two of those golds came in the women’s giant slalom standing event at the 2014 and 2018 Paralympics.
But Beijing 2022 has not been an easy ride for Bochet as a silver in the women's super-G was her best result so far, with a fifth place in the super-combined and a did not finish (DNF) in downhill.
To win a third back-to-back title she will face strong concurrence from Sweden’s Ebba Aarsjoe (the Beijing 2022 super-combined winner), Canada’s Mollie Jepsen (Beijing 2022 downhill winner) and Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss among others.
Rothfuss will be very keen to take her first gold after four consecutive Paralympic silver medals in the event. Jepsen was the bronze medallist at PyeongChang 2018.
China's Mengqiu Zhang is the only female standing skier to have reached the podium in all three events which have taken place so far (silver in downhill, gold in super-G and silver in super-combined, respectively).
WOMEN'S VISION IMPAIRED
Slovakia’s golden star Henrieta Farkasova can be considered the top favourite in the women’s vision impaired giant slalom. At Beijing 2022, she can win a fourth back-to-back title in her fourth Winter Paralympics. Second at the last World Championships, she will have to fight with Austria’s new generation of skiers to conserve her Paralympic crown.
Barbara Aigner, 16 years old, and Elina Stary, 15, are making their Paralympic debut in China. And after their medals at Lillehammer 2021 (gold for Aigner and bronze for Stary) they will pose a serious threat to Farkasova. Austria and the Aigner family will also have Barbara’s sister Veronika in action in the giant slalom (with another sister, Elisabeth as guide). She did not compete at the World Championships in January due to an injury.
Fourth place in Lillehammer, the PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Menna Fitzpatrick of Great Britain is another medal hopeful competing on Friday 11.
Slovakia has bagged all three medals in the women's vision impaired races so far, with 16-year-old Alexandra Rexova surprising the world in super-G.
Live streaming (geo-blocked in some territories) and live results from Beijing 2022 will be available on Paralympic.org. You can follow all the action, behind the scenes and news on World Para Snow Sports social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.