January 20 - Former top abled-bodied skier Matthias Lanzinger is emerging as one of the favourites for a gold medal at the Paralympics in Sochi next year.
The 32-year-old Austrian, who won a junior world title in 2000 and the able-bodied European Cup in the 2003-2004 season, is currently lying second overall in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing World Cup rankings in the standing giant slalom category.
Lanzinger had to have his lower left amputated in March 2008 after crashing into a gate during a World Cup Super-G at Kvitfjell in Norway and falling down the slope.
Surgeons revealed afterwards that if they had not decided to remove the lower part of his leg then he could have died.
The series is currently being led by Russia's 15-year-old Alexey Bugaev, but Lanzinger remains on his tail after recording his first-ever victory in the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup at Sestriere.
"In the last year and a half I've done everything to return to high level sports," said Lanzinger.
Lanzinger's next major target is the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain, from February 20 to 27.
Since his accident Lanzinger has studied for a business degree and worked in marketing for Salomon, his ski sponsors.
But he had always hoped to return to the slope and has been preparing two years for this season.
"After I was able to secure my career, I have again listened to my heart," he said.
"It was my heart's desire to go back to racing.
"The ski racing has always been deep inside me."
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