Schaffelhuber, Gallagher and Bochet all impress in Panorama

German sit-skier Anna Schaffelhuber completed a clean sweep of victories on the final day of the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup in Panorama, Canada, by winning Tuesday’s (14 Jan) super-G event.

The final day also saw Great Britain’s Kelly Gallagher, guided by Charlotte Evans, … and France’s Marie Bochet secure their third wins of the meet at the resort that will stage the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships. There were second wins for the USA’s Mark Bathum, Austria’s Matthias Lanzinger and Japan’s Taiki Morri.

It is 20-year-old Schaffelhuber (1:22.68) who rightfully deserves the headlines however, after topping the podium together with USA’s Alana Nichols (1:23.53) and Austria’s Claudia Loesch (1:25.73) in the women’s sitting event.

“I was a little bit nervous because it is a fast course, a little bit like a downhill, but I was happy with it. Usually, I like it if it’s a little more technical, like the downhill here was a technical downhill,” said Schaffelhuber who will be looking to win her first Paralympic gold in Sochi, having previously won bronze in this event in Vancouver.

In the women’s visually impaired class there appears to be no stopping Great Britain’s Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans. Coming into this meeting, the pair had just one World Cup victory to their names – a slalom win at last March’s World Cup finals. However, the pair now head to the next World Cup event later this week in Copper Mountain, USA, boosted by three wins and a second place finish in Panorama.

The pair, who won World Championship super-G silver last year, were convincing winners in 1:24.79 to lead home Australian Melissa Perrine and guide Andrew Bor in second (1:25.87) and Russia’s world champion Alexandra Frantseva and guide Pavel Zabotin (1:26.77) in third.

Kelly Gallagher said: “We were a little bit nervous at the top in the start gate, but we worked all the way down and it was good fun. We’re delighted to have done all these races in Panorama, it’s been an amazing set-up and we’re excited about the next part of the tour in Copper.”

Guide Charlotte Evans added: “It was pretty straight at the bottom so we we’re able to let it go.  It was quite fun. It was kind of about finding our guts and letting it go because it’s just one run today.”

After a rare defeat in Monday’s giant slalom, France’s Marie Bochet (1:20.15) bounced back to winning ways leading home the field in the women’s standing event to secure her third win of the meet. Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss (1:23.23), Monday’s giant slalom winner, was second, whilst USA’s Allison Jones (1:24.74) was third.

“It was a perfect run today. In super-G you need to be engaged at the first run because there is just one run,” said Bochet, a winner of five world titles in 2013. “Me and Andrea are very close. Maybe I win two races and she wins two races. It’s a good thing for me and for the season because I believe in my skiing, so it’s very good.”

Taiki Morii will also be pleased with his efforts in Panorama after the Japanese athlete won the men’s sitting to leave Canada with two wins, a second and a third place finish.

The 33-year-old (1:15.75), who won Paralympic bronze in this event in 2010, led home Canada’s Josh Dueck (1:16.29) and Japan’s Akira Kano (1:16.35) and must now be quietly confident of winning his first Paralympic title in Sochi.

The USA’s Mark Bathum and guide Cade Yamamoto (1:15.35) secured their second victory of the meet in the men’s visually impaired race.  Friday’s downhill winners finished ahead of Canada’s Mac Marcoux and his brother guide BJ Marcoux (1:16.53) and Slovakia’s Miroslav Haraus, guided by Maros Hudik (1:16.73).

Mark Bathum said: “Today’s run was very unusual for me in that I didn’t know where we were on the course until about halfway. Normally, I can tell when we’re leaving a flat, entering a steep section or going through a difficult combination area.

“I was really surprised when my guide said “grab bullet” because we had that designation in a certain area and it meant we were through a tough part and I just didn’t know. I was so focused on him that I just didn’t know. So I didn’t know how my results would turn out at all.

“This is by far the fastest super-G I’ve ever been on, you have to love that because your adrenalin goes that much harder and its fun, I liked it a ton but I haven’t found a race course I haven’t liked.”

Austria’s Matthias Lanzinger followed up Monday’s giant slalom win by topping the podium once again in the men’s standing. The 33-year-old clocked 1:15.66 well clear of New Zealand’s Adam Hall (1:17.26) and Switzerland’s Michael Bruegger (1:17.50) in second and third places respectively.

“Today was a very good run. The slope was good and the course was very fast. I had a very good run to the giant slalom start and then, before the finish, I had some little mistakes. I thought it wasn’t good enough for leading but I think the whole run was good, so I’m very happy about winning this race.

“These last two races were very good. I think in downhill it’s more possible for me but now in giant slalom and super-G it was good,” said Lanzinger.

The world’s leading skiers will now leave Canada and head to the USA for the Copper Mountain World Cup event which gets underway on  Friday (17 January). The event will see athletes compete over two disciplines – slalom and giant slalom.