Japanese three-time Paralympic medallist Taiki Morii wasted little time in showing … he was the one to beat in the men’s giant slalom sitting event when the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup opened in Copper Mountain, Colorado in the USA on Friday (17 January).
Morii, the reigning Paralympic silver medallist in the event, finished first on Copper Mountain with an overall time of 1:57.06, beating the likes of New Zealand’s Corey Peters and Roman Rabl, who finished second and third, respectively.
The top finisher for host nation was retired US Army Staff Sergeant Heath Calhoun, who took sixth in 1:58.71.
The men’s giant slalom standing event was a four-horse race between Austria’s Matthias Lanzinger and Markus Salcher, France’s Vincent Gauthier-Manuel and Switzerland’s Thomas Pfyl.
Lanzinger, a former able-bodied skier, took first place with 1:51.62, with Salcher close behind at 1:51.98. Gauthier-Manuel came in third (1:52.90) and Pfyl in fourth (1:52.91).
On the women’s side, France’s 19-year-old sensation Marie Bochet came out on top in her rivalry with Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss, completing the giant slalom standing event in 1:57.90, just ahead of Rothfuss’ time of 1:58.39. Bochet’s teammate, Solene Jambaque, finished third in 2:05.08.
The Australians found success in the women’s visually impaired class of the giant slalom, with Melissa Perrine (guided by Andrew Bor) and Jessica Gallagher (guided by Christian Geiger) recording a one-two finish with times of 2:06.71 and 2:08.36, respectively.
Great Britian’s Kelly Gallagher (guided by Charlotte Evans) took third in 2:09.00.
Elsewhere, Canadian brothers Mac and BJ Marcoux teamed up to win the men’s giant slalom visually impaired in 1:52.89, with BJ serving as the guide.
Germany’s Anna Schaffelhuber, the world’s top-ranked sit skier in the 2012-13 season, had no trouble taking the crown in the women’s giant slalom sitting discipline with a time of 2:01.66. Her closest challenger, second-place finisher Claudia Loesch of Austria, was well behind at 2:08.82.
The IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup will continue through Monday (20 January), as 75 skiers from nearly 15 countries are trying to perfect their runs ahead of March’s Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.