By Nick Butler

Mac and BJ Marcoux celebrate following their World Championship victory on home snow ©Alpine CanadaMac Marcoux, guided by brother BJ, provided the perfect start for the host nation by taking visually impaired downhill gold on the opening day of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama.

The Canadian, who won giant slalom gold as well as downhill and Super G bronze at last year's Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics, had been in dominant form throughout the season and duly continued his successful streak in the year's showpiece event. 

The 17-year-old set a time of 1min 29.68sec to finish over two seconds clear of United States' Mark Bathum and guide Cade Yanamoto, who clocked 1:31.89.

Paralympic silver medallist Miroslav Haraus of Slovakia and guide Maros Hudik took bronze in 1:32.12. 

"We just skied, see what happens," said the winner afterwards.

"It was a good run.

"There's such a good surface on the hill, I'm pretty stoked."

In the corresponding women's race, there was a first world title for Australia's Melissa Perrine, as she set a time of 1:45.80 with guide Andrew Bor to defeat Danielle Umstead of the US and Aleksandra Frantceva of Russia.

But the shock of the day came in the women's sitting event, where Claudia Loesch produced a stunning run to defeat German Paralympic champion Anna Schaffelhuber, who finished third after also being beaten by Momoko Muraoka of Japan.

Claudia Loesch was another winner on a day of downhill action to open the World Championships ©Getty ImagesClaudia Loesch was another winner on a day of downhill action to open the World Championships ©Getty Images

"It's the last cornerstone of my career," said the 26-year-old Austrian winner afterwards.

"I knew at the start that I just had to ski it and rock it.

I am just so happy and relieved right now, I'm close to tears, It was amazing."

On a good day for Oceania, New Zealand's Corey Peters also triumphed in the men's sitting category, while France's world and Paralympic champion Marie Bochet got her campaign off to a perfect start in the women's standing class, with a comfortable victory.

Elsewhere, 17-year-old Russian star Alexey Bugaev eased to gold in the men's event, beating Austria's Matthias Lanzinger and compatriot Alexander Vetrov into the respective minor medal positions. 

Races continue tomorrow with the six Super G competitions, with the Championships, featuring over 100 athletes from 23 countries, set to continue until Tuesday (March 10).

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