Para snowboarders will compete in the first races of the season from Wednesday (16 November), as an IPC Snowboard Europa Cup and two World Cups in banked slalom take place in Landgraaf, the Netherlands.
More than 80 athletes from 22 countries will line up at SnowWorld for the traditional season-opener.
The races take on added significance as athletes prepare for the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships in Big White, Canada, which are less than 100 days away.
Dutch world champion Bibian Mentel-Spee will face a tough field in the women’s SB-LL2, but she has been working hard in the off-season despite ongoing uncertainty around her health. During last season and over the summer, Mentel-Spee received treatment for cancer.
“I’ve been training this summer with [Finnish snowboarder] Matti Suur-Hamari and [teammate] Merijn Koek and that has been working out very nice so far,” Mentel-Spee said. “Together with the coaches Mikko Wendelin and Edwin Spee, we have a great team where we work very hard but also have a lot of fun!”
Her teammate Lisa Bunschoten claimed the banked slalom World Cup title last season, and joins Mentel-Spee in Landgraaf. Australia’s Joany Badenhorst, a silver medallist from the 2015 World Championships in La Molina, Spain, will also begin her campaign.
In the men’s SB-LL2 the three Worlds podium finishers have made the journey to Landgraaf.
Title holder Mike Shea and silver medallist Evan Strong are amongst a large field of US athletes. They will go against Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari, the World Cup banked slalom champion and La Molina 2015 bronze medallist.
French world champion and banked slalom World Cup victor Cecile Hernandez-Cervellon headlines the field in the women’s SB-LL1.
Last season Hernandez-Cervellon had a close rivalry with the USA’s Nicole Roundy, who will also make her season debut in Landgraaf. Roundy finished just behind the Frenchwoman in the World Cup rankings and is the Worlds bronze medallist.
Canada’s Michelle Salt is building towards her home World Championships, returning as the third place finisher from the World Cup.
The Netherlands’ Chris Vos is riding high after sweeping World Cup titles in both the men’s snowboard-cross and banked slalom SB-LL1 last season, leading to the overall win. At just 18-years-old Vos will also defend his two World Championships golds this season.
Amongst those hoping to unseat him is Austria’s Reinhold Schett, the runner-up to Vos in the 2015-16 World Cup.
In the men’s SB-UL, Austrian world champion Patrick Mayrhofer will face Great Britain’s Worlds silver medallist Ben Moore once again. Moore returns to the snow after missing most of last season due to injury.
The USA’s Mike Minor will be looking to maintain his winning form from the 2015-16 banked slalom World Cup, where he finished just 200 points ahead of Mayrhofer.
The 2016-17 Para snowboard season gets underway with the Europa Cup on 16 November, followed by two World Cups on 17-18 November.
Results will be available at the IPC Snowboard's website.
Updates and pictures will be posted on @parasnowboard’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The competition in Landgraaf is the first of two World Cup destinations before the Big White 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships take place from 1-8 February. La Molina is next up from 16-21 January.