Highlights from Day 1 of 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships La Molina
There was joy for the home crowd on the first day of the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina on Wednesday (20 February) when Spain's Jon Santacana and his guide Miguel Galindo Garces stormed to gold in the men's downhill for visually impaired athletes. Santacana, the Paralympic champion in the discipline, led home a strong field to win Spain's first gold of the Championships in 1:25.14. There was a surprise silver for Italy's Alessandro Daldoss and his guide Davide Riva (1:26.80), whilst bronze was won by Canada's Torino 2006 Paralympic silver medallist Chris Williamson and guide Robin Femy (1:27.77) who were fastest in yesterday's final training run. On a stunningly beautiful day in the Pyrenees, Slovakia's Henrieta Farkisova showed why she will start as favourite for downhill gold at next year's Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi after storming to her second successive world title in the first event on the day - the women's downhill visually impaired. The 26 year old, together with guide Natalia Subrtova, took gold in 1:33.11. Silver went to Russia's Alexandra Frantseva (guide Pavel Zabotin) in 1:34.63, whilst bronze was won by Great Britain's Kelly Gallagher (guide Charlotte Evans) in 1:38.86. In the women's standing event, France's took gold and bronze through Marie Bochet and Solene Jambaque respectively. Bochet, a silver medallist in this discipline at the 2011 World Championships in Sestriere, Italy, took gold in 1:35.62 whilst Jambaque took bronze for the second successive World Championships in 1:38.52. Germany's 23 year old defending champion Andrea Rothfuss managed silver in 1:37.23. Austria's Claudia Loesch, 24, who leads the world rankings and was favourite for gold in the women's sitting, fell on her run and finished outside of the medals. Gold went to Torino 2006 Paralympic downhill champion Laurie Stephens of the USA in 1:41.07 whilst silver was taken by Canada's Kimberley Joines (1:41.37). Germany's Anna Schaffelhuber claimed bronze in 1:44.17. The men's standing was won by Austria's 21 year old skier Markus Salcher who currently leads the IPC Alpine Skiing downhill world rankings. His time of 1:29.74 placed him ahead of Switzerland's Michael Bruegger who took silver in 1:32.51. Bronze was won by Austria's Matthias Lanzinger (1:33.80) who only made his debut in para-alpine skiing competition in 2011 following a terrible accident in FIS competition in March 2008 which saw his lower leg amputated. The final event of the day was a thriller with the medal positions changing throughout the men's sitting. Stephen Lawler looked on course to take USA's second gold of the day (1:32.58) until Germany's Franz Hanfstingl, one of the final runners of the day, came out of nowhere to take gold in a time of 1:31.92. Lawler had to settle for silver whilst France's Yohann Taberlet (1:32.77) took bronze. The 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain will run through to 27 February and on Thursday (21 February) will feature Super-G events. Nearly 120 skiers from 28 will compete in the event which is the last major international Championships ahead of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. For more information on the event including live results, please visit: www.ipcalpineskiingworlds.org.