By Gary Anderson

March 26 - Finland's Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony flagbearer Katja Saarinen is one of three athletes elected to the IPC Athletes' Council ©Getty Images Nagano 1998 ice sledge hockey champion Eskil Hagen and Russian Nordic skier Mikhail Terentiev, winner of a gold medal at Salt Lake City 2002, joined Finnish Alpine skier Katja Saarinen as the three winter athletes endorsed for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes' Council.

The athletes were the only three nominated for the Council and their places were confirmed by the IPC Governing Board at a meeting prior to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.

Hagen, who competed at Sochi 2014, will serve a second term as a member at large while Terentiev, currently a member at large on the European Paralympic Committee (EPC) and secretary-general of the Russian Paralympic Committee, joins the Council for the first time.

Terentiev and Saarinen, who also competed at Sochi 2014, replace Polish Nordic skier Katarzyna Ragowiec and Turin 2006 gold medal winner Todd Nicholson of Canada as members at large on the Council.

Nicholson already serves as the chairman of the IPC Athletes' Council and will remain in the role until his term ends in 2017.

The IPC Athletes' Council is the collective voice of Paralympic athletes within the Movement and its role is to provide feedback and advice as well as to report to the IPC Governing Board on behalf of the athletes.

Eskil Hagen will serve for a second term as a member at large on the IPC Athletes' Council ©Getty Images Eskil Hagen will serve for a second term as a member at large on the IPC Athletes' Council ©Getty Images

Along with Nicholson, there are now nine athletes on the body, three from winter sports and six from summer sports.

The six summer sport members are sitting volleyball player Elvira Stinnissen of the Netherlands, track athlete Arnaud Assoumani of France, archer Gizem Girismen of Turkey, American seven-a-side footballer Jon McCullough, Spanish swimmer Teresa Perales and wheelchair fencer Yu Chui Yee of Hong Kong.

Elections to the Council take place at each Paralympic Games and the six summer sport positions will next be decided at Rio 2016 while elections for the three winter sport places will take place at Pyeongchang 2018.

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