A thrilling tie in the men’s giant slalom sitting concluded the first day (15 January) of the World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup in Veysonnaz, Switzerland.
Japan’s Sochi 2014 champion Taiki Morii initially held the lead thanks to his first run. But Norway’s Jesper Pedersen found speed in his second run to match Morii’s overall time of 1:43.97, and therefore share the gold medal prize.
It was Morii’s first podium of the season while for Pedersen, Monday’s achievement was a continuation of a successful season as he bagged his sixth World Cup gold.
“No, never experienced that,” Pedersen said of the tie. “It was really cool it was that close. It’s always good to get on with a win. It’s good to get it on a tie as well.”
Morii said: “I’m ready for the Paralympics, I think I’ll do a good performance at the Paralympics.”
The Netherlands’ three-time world champion Jeroen Kampschreur took the bronze medal.
Pedersen/Morii - 1st Men's Giant Slalom Sitting - Veysonnaz (Pedersen's run)
Germany’s five-time Paralympic champion Anna Schaffelhuber returned to the slopes after missing the last two World Cups in Zagreb, Croatia, and Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Despite clocking the quickest time in her second run, it was not enough to overtake rival and defending world champion Claudia Loesch in the women’s sitting. The Austrian collected her sixth World Cup victory this season, holding off Schaffelhuber by 0.75 seconds. Germany’s Anna-Lena Forster secured the bronze.
“Now in a really difficult — in a fun day actually - and difficult day in terms of every one can ski well in slopes like that, and I still came out on top, that was amazing. I would not have thought that was possible, even after my first run I was a bit skeptical,” Loesch said.
Slovakia continues to find success in the vision impaired categories.
Henrieta Farkasova and guide Natalia Subrtova were untouchable in the women’s side to land a third straight giant slalom World Cup victory, carrying over from last week’s wins in Kranjska Gora. Great Britain’s Menna Fitzpatrick, guided by Jennifer Kehoe; and Australia’s Melissa Perrine and guide Christian Geiger came second and third respectively.
Marek Kubacka and guide Maria Zatovicova knocked Canadian Paralympic and world champion Mac Marcoux and guide Jack Leitch off the top of the podium, courtesy of a speedy second run. Spain’s Yon Santacana Maiztegui with guide Miguel Galindo Garces rounded off the top three.
“It feels amazing because it is the first time for Marek that he won third race in a row, so it’s amazing we can’t describe the feelings,” Zatovicova said.
There was no surprise in the women’s standing, as France’s Marie Bochet skied to her eighth World Cup victory. Germany’s reigning world champion Andrea Rothfuss followed behind, while neutral athlete Varvara Voronchikhina came in third.
“It was better than Kranjska Gora,” Bochet said. “It was a good slope with very good conditions, winter conditions not spring.”
Switzerland’s Theo Gmur had complete command in the men’s standing, as the only athlete in his category to go under 50 seconds. He beat out Austrian Paralympic and world champion Markus Salcher and Canada’s Alexis Guimond, who took second and third respectively.
“I was here many times when I was a little kid, so it’s unbelievable to win here,” Gmur said.
The Veysonnaz World Cup is the fourth on this season’s circuit and continues Tuesday (16 January) with more giant slalom events.