Austrian and French skiers excel at Europa Cup Finals‏

Austrian and French skiers each secured two slalom wins apiece on the first day of competition at the IPC Alpine Skiing Europa Cup Finals in Sella Nevea, Italy, on Monday (16 February).

The strongest field of the day was in the men's standing where Austrians took the top four spots and just 0.18 seconds separated the podium finishers.

Matthias Lanzinger (1:24.87) led the way, clinging on for victory by just 0.09 seconds despite having a half a second lead after his first run. Martin Wuerz (1:24.96) was second and Thomas Grochar (1:25.05) third.

Austria's second win came through Claudia Loesch who claimed her third Europa Cup slalom win of the season in the women's sitting.

For France, Frederic Francois (1:27.49) was fastest in his two runs to claim victory in the men's sitting. Austria's Roman Rabl (1:29.07) was second, whilst Francois' teammate Cyril More (1:32.37) was third.

France's Marie Bochet (1:29.52), who will be looking to defend five world titles at the World Championships in Canada later this month, eased to victory in the women's standing. Switzerland's Bigna Schmidt (1:48.05) was some way back in second, as was her teammate Elena Kratter (1:52.37) in third.

A superb second run was enough for Poland's Maciej Krezel and guide Anna Ogarzynska (1:34.81) to take their first Europa Cup win of the season in the men's visually impaired. Second was the Czech Republic's Patrik Hetmer guided by Miroslaw Macala (1:35.12) whilst third was Austria's Christian Hesch, guided by S Pajantschitsch (1:35.63).

The women's visually impaired was won by Belgium's Eleonor Sana, guided by Chloe Sana (1:55.38).

Competition in Sella Nevea will continue through to Wednesday (18 February). On Tuesday skiers will compete in giant slalom.

Full results from the first day of action can be found at: http://www.paralympic.org/alpine-skiing/calendar-and-results

The IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, Canada, between 28 February and 10 March is expected to gather around 130 athletes from 30 countries in the biggest gathering of alpine skiers since the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.

More information can be found at www.Panorama2015.com.