More than 100 of the world’s best skiers from 30 countries have arrived in Tarvisio in Italy for the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships where competitive action starts tomorrow.
An Opening Ceremony took place on Sunday and featured the United World College of Duino’s Adriatic Choir and the Julia Alpine Brigade.
Two days of downhill training began yesterday before the first medals will be contested tomorrow.
One of the favourites on home snow is Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli in the men’s visually impaired category.
The 18-year-old is a winner of six technical and speed World Cup stages this season, including a clean sweep in the slalom and giant slalom events in the most recent meeting in Kranjska Gora in Slovenia.
“For the World Championship, I would like to win in giant slalom and super-G," the Italian said.
"If we ski well, we can win.
“I want to win for everyone that has helped me in these four years that’s led me to the most important event of my life.”
However, Bertagnolli will have to overcome Canada’s giant slalom Paralympic champion and downhill world title holder Mac Marcoux who has been skiing with new guide Jack Leitch this season.
“I’m pretty stoked heading into World Championships next week,” Marcoux said.
“I feel like Jack and I have had good preparation and have built some confidence moving forward from the races through the season.”
The women’s visually impaired category will feature the return of Slovakia’s downhill and giant slalom Paralympic champion Henrieta Farkasova with guide Natalia Subrtova.
However, during Farkasova’s two year break, skiers such as British teenagers Menna Fitzpatrick, guided by Jen Kehoe, and Millie Knight with guide Gary Smith, have emerged as serious contenders.
They have several overall World Cup top three finishes under their belts and have continued their form into this season.
France’s 11-time world champion Marie Bochet is set to make her hotly anticipated comeback in the women’s standing division.
The 22-year-old picked up an injury at the start of the season and has been out ever since but has returned in time to attempt to go a third consecutive World Championships without defeat.
In Bochet’s absence, Canada’s Alana Ramsay has been in impressive form, securing her first World Cup victories across speed and technical events this season.
Italy’s Melania Corradini, the Vancouver 2010 super-G silver medallist, will also be keen to impress on home snow.
In the men’s standing Austria’s super-G and downhill Paralympic champion Markus Salcher will be in action.
Salcher's biggest rivals include team-mate Thomas Grochar, Australia’s Mitchell Gourley and Switzerland’s Thomas Pfyl, the current World Cup leaders in slalom, giant slalom and super combined respectively.
In the men’s sitting, Germany’s Georg Kreiter will arrive at the Di Prampero slope as the super combined and giant slalom world title holder.
However, Austria’s Roman Rabl has topped four giant slalom World Cup podiums this season in the build-up to Tarvisio 2017 and is one of the favourites.
New Zealand’s Corey Peters claimed his first world titles in super-G and downhill two years ago in Panorama in Canada and will be back to defend them.
Japan’s slalom world champion Takeshi Suzuki will also compete.
Germany’s five-time Paralympic gold medallist Anna Schaffelhuber has her sights firmly fixed on victory in the women’s sitting.
She will face Austria’s slalom, super combined and downhill world champion Claudia Loesch.
Schaffelhuber’s compatriot Anna-Lena Forster is also no stranger to the podium as a former World Championships and Paralympic medallist.