Five snow sport athletes make up the shortlist for the Best Male Athlete Category for the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) 2011 Paralympic Sport Awards, proudly partnered by the IPC’s International Partner, Allianz.
The award will be presented by the IPC to the top male athlete for his accomplishments at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.
Finalists for the award include: German alpine skier Gerd Schoenfelder; Russian biathlete and cross-country skier Irek Zaripov; Slovakian alpine skier Jakub Krako; Canadian biathlete and cross-country skier Brian McKeever; and New Zealand alpine skier Adam Hall.
• Gerd Schoenfelder: After picking up five medals in Vancouver, the 41-year-old became one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes in history, as he has now won 22 Paralympic Games medals, including 16 golds. At his sixth Winter Games in Vancouver, the German took four golds in Alpine Skiing (Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom, Super Combined) and one silver (Slalom). After winning two golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2011 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Sestriere, Italy, Schoenfelder announced his retirement.
• Irek Zaripov: The Russian, who lost both of his legs after a car accident back in 2000, won five total medals in Vancouver, including four golds and a silver. He struck gold in two Biathlon events (2.4km Pursuit, 12.5km Pursuit) and two Cross-Country Skiing events (15km Sitting, 10km Sitting), in addition to picking up a silver in Cross-Country (Sprint Sitting).
• Jakub Krako: The visually impaired Slovakian won gold in three Alpine Skiing disciplines in Vancouver – men’s slalom, giant slalom and Super G. The then-20-year-old also picked up a silver in the Super Combined. He capped off his year with a victory in the Super G World Cup, and then won the Slalom World Cup in 2011.
• Brian McKeever: At his home Games in Vancouver, McKeever, who started skiing at 3 and began losing his vision at 19, claimed gold in three events. McKeever won three Cross-Country Skiing disciplines: 20km Freestyle, 10km Classic Style and Sprint Classic Style. He won the Best Male Athlete Category in the 2007 Paralympic Sport Awards and was the first Canadian athlete with a disability to ski in an able-bodied event in 2007.
• Adam Hall: Born with spina bifida, Hall quickly became the pride of New Zealand at 22 after claiming an unlikely gold medal in the Alpine Skiing Slalom Standing event in Vancouver. After a stunning first run that put him well into the lead, a remarkable recovery following a fall in his second run pushed him to gold.
The award winner will be announced during a special ceremony held in conjunction with the 2011 IPC General Assembly in Beijing, China, in December.