IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships get underway in Spain
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
February 20 - The last major event before Sochi 2014, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing World Championships, are due to begin in La Molina in north-east Spain today.
A total of 118 skiers from 29 nations will compete for gold medals in six events this week as athletes look to carry momentum into the Winter Games in just over a year's time.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven said: "Since the 2011 World Championships in Sestriere, a number of great rivalries have developed on the alpine skiing circuit and I expect these to take centre stage here this week."
"I'm also delighted at some of the new young talent emerging and believe some of them will be surprise-packages here in La Molina by coming out of nowhere to win a medal or even a world title.
"Such competition for medals and rankings is great news for the sport and I expect the performance levels of athletes to reach new heights at these Championships."
American Alana Nichols, who won two golds, a silver and a bronze at Vancouver 2010, will compete looking to retain her title in the women's sitting category.
The 29-year-old, who also competed for the women's wheelchair basketball team that lost out to the Netherlands in the bronze medal match at London 2012, feels confident going into the World Championships.
"After London I took some time off," she said.
"I knew that coming back into the winter season and preparing for ski-racing, I was going to be a little bit behind, but I feel that I'm pretty well caught-up now and feeling good about how I'm racing."
The competition continues with the super-G tomorrow, which will see fierce rivals Andrea Rothfuss of Germany and Marie Bochet of France battling it out once more.
"I want to get good results," said Bochet.
"Because Sochi is only one year away and I want to arrive there in good condition."
"Andrea Rothfuss is my toughest competitor - she has the same technical abilities as me." she added.
The men's slalom will take place on Saturday (February 23) and Monday (February 25), featuring defending world champion Vincent Gauthier-Manuel of France as he faces tough competition from Russia's Alexandr Alyabyev, Australia's Mitch Gourley, Austria's Matthias Lanzinger and New Zealand's Adam Hall.
"For me this is the most important competition of the season, because it's the World Championship. It's most important for me to have one gold medal," said Gauthier-Manuel.
The competition will conclude on Wednesday (February 27) with the team event.
February 2013: Paralympic champions Nichols and Devlin-Young to lead US charge at World Championships
November 2012: IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships set to break new ground