The stage is set for the first races of the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, the biggest gathering of para-alpine skiers since the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, which will get underway with downhill in Panorama, Canada, on Wednesday (4 March). …Â
Five world champions will begin their campaign to defend their downhill titles, including Spain’s Jon Santacana and guide Miguel Galindo in the men’s visually impaired who are in Panorama after a delayed start to their season.
“I am not thinking about defending the titles because we have had a complicated season after Sochi. We have barely competed this season and we are here to see what happens and enjoy.”
Home skier Mac Marcoux, guided by his brother BJ, went fastest in the first training session on Monday (2 March) and is well prepared to take his first World Championships gold medal.
“I think the track is pretty sweet,” Marcoux said. “The turns are in all the right places and I think the guys did a pretty good job setting it up.
“At this point I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, hopefully we can ski strong and we’re just going to play it by ear.”
The women’s event will feature Russia’s Aleksandra Frantceva, a silver medallist from 2013, and guide Semen Pliaskin. Australian Melissa Perrine, guided by Andrew Bor, is competing in her first World Championships since the 2011 edition where she finished second.
World and Paralympic champion Markus Salcher headlines the men’s standing against Russian Alexey Bugaev, who went fastest in training on Monday ahead of the Austrian. Salcher’s teammate Matthias Lanzinger, a bronze medallist from 2013, was quickest during Tuesday’s (3 March) training.
The women’s standing will see the first outing of French Paralympic and world champion Marie Bochet against Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss. The pair have gone head-to-head several times in World and Europa Cups this season, but it is Bochet who came out on top in both training sessions.
Japan’s Paralympic champion Akira Kano is feeling confident about his chances in the men’s sitting, despite both New Zealand’s Corey Peters and Austrian Roman Rabl posting the fastest runs during training.
“Downhill and super-G are my best events,” Kano said. “I feel good about winning gold.”
Germany’s Anna Schaffelhuber is going for another clean sweep in the women’s sitting after sealing all five golds at Sochi 2014. But the USA’s Laurie Stephens, the reigning world champion, is also in Panorama as well as Austrian Claudia Loesch who is keen to grab her first Worlds downhill gold.
“The most important thing is winning the downhill,” Loesch said. “That’s what I’ve been dreaming of for years and that’s the thing I want to achieve this week.”
Panorama 2015, featuring over 100 athletes from 23 countries, starts on Wednesday at 11am (MST) and will be streamed live at www.Panorama2015.com alongside live results. Viewers in the US can watch via US Paralympics website and in Canada at CBCSports.ca.