A blanket of snow fell on the course at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia on day three (23 January) of the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships as 58 male athletes went out to compete in the slalom races.
France’s Arthur Bauchet and Netherlands’ Jeroen Kampschreur successfully defended their titles while two disqualifications ended Slovakia’s golden streak in the vision impaired races.
MEN'S STANDING - BRILLIANT BAUCHET
The gold medallist in giant slalom, Arthur Bauchet, was back on the slopes and just as uncatchable. He obliterated the field in his first slalom run, taking a confident 3.82-second lead, and extended it to 7.47 seconds in the second run to win his second consecutive gold at the 2019 Worlds.
“It’s a dream come true,” Bauchet said. “After my win in GS (giant slalom) I think ‘Yeah, you did it, but now focus on the slalom’. I was focused on it and I did it again, so I can’t dream of anything better.”
This is a fourth world title for the 18-year-old, but the teenager has remained humble about his accomplishments. Sitting in the leader box after his first run, Bauchet was generous in his congratulations to fellow skiers and sincere in his words of comfort, jumping up to reach a dejected Hiraku Misawa and calm him down about crashing out of the race.
Bauchet’s parents - unmistakable thanks to his father’s knitted hat shaped in a form of a chicken and coloured in the French tricolour - were also in a friendly mood as they mingled with the other skiers at the finish line and watched their son race to his second gold.
“This is really really important for me,” Bauchet said of his family’s support in Kranjska Gora. “They are the key to me, of my love for skiing.”
Switzerland’s Thomas Pfyl came second, while the veteran skier from Australia, Mitchell Gourley, was third.
“It feels very good. Two days ago I had a fifth place and today I pushed again and then I did well and I’m very happy for that,” Pfyl said. “Arthur is too fast and today he won. But I’m behind him and that’s good.”
MEN'S SITTING - ORANGE SHADE OF GOLD
Another chapter of the Jeroen Kampschreur-Jesper Pedersen rivalry was written in the slalom race with the Dutch skier once again defending his world title and emerging on top.
“It was another title to defend and another discipline I liked. But this is my favourite,” said Kampschreur. “Almost four seconds in front, it feels really good. I gave it all. The conditions were hard, and a gold medal is perfect.”
“I’m always competing for myself. I’m not focusing on the other skiers because everybody does their own thing and I just give it all because when I ski well, I know I can set a fast time and if you focus on your skiing, you’ll get a fast time. Don’t think about the result. Just think of yourself.”
Unlike Kampschreur, Pedersen is only starting to think that slalom could become his signature event. Known more as a giant slalom specialist, the Norwegian skier was elated with silver in the other technical discipline.
“I didn’t quite know how good I was in slalom before this season so it’s great to be on the podium today,” Pedersen said. “It’s not a signature event yet, but maybe that’s what I got to be focusing on going forward.”
The falling snow added an extra punch to Pedersen’s performance.
“The snow is like Norwegian weather. I’m feeling like home when it’s snowing so it’s perfect conditions for me,” Pedersen said. “It’s bit of an advantage because all the others are like ‘Oh, snow…’ and I’m like, ‘Yay!’.”
Poland’s Igor Sikorski took the bronze in the event.
MEN'S VISION IMPAIRED - SLOVAKIA KRACKS
Slovakia looked poised to extend its streak in the vision impaired events, adding to Marek Kubacka’s victory in the men’s giant slalom and Henrieta Farkasova’s gold in the women’s giant slalom.
But Jakub Krako’s celebration in the men’s slalom was premature as he was disqualified for straddling a gate. His teammate, Kubacka, was disqualified for the same error in the first run.
With Krako’s disqualification, the gold went to the Paralympic champion in the event, Giacomo Bertagnolli and his guide Fabrizio Casal. The silver passed on to another Slovakian, Miroslav Haraus, with Austria’s Josef Lahner wrapping up the podium.
Haraus did not manage to finish the race at the World Championships two years ago and was thrilled to walk away with a medal.
“I went into this competition with some health problems and I was a little afraid of how it will be in this competition, but this competition was great for me,” Haraus said. “Slalom is my top discipline. It is the discipline in which I want to get good results.”
Women’s slalom races are next on the schedule and will be held on 24 January at Kranjska Gora.
You can watch the World Championships live on World Para Alpine Skiing’s website https://www.paralympic.org/alpine-skiing and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paraalpine, where live results are also available.