The first day of racing at the IPC Alpine Skiing Europa Cup in Kuhtai, Austria, on Friday (19 December) saw wins for two Russian skiers and a 15-year-old Britain, and a rare defeat for a five-time Paralympic champion from the Sochi 2014 Games as skiers tackled slalom events.
In clear skies and sub-zero temperatures, Russia's slalom Paralympic champion Valerii Redkozubov and guide Evgeny Geroev (1:41.77) started where they left off in Sochi with victory in the men's visually impaired race.
Second fastest after their first run, the pair was one second quicker than anyone else in their second run to finish ahead of Slovakia's Jakub Krako and guide Martin Motyka (1:43.97) in second. Krako's teammates Miroslav Haraus and guide Maros Hudik (1:46.38) completed the podium.
Redkozubov's compatriot Alexander Alyabyev (1:39.68) also tasted success with victory in the men's standing slalom. The Sochi 2014 slalom bronze medallist was fastest in both runs to take the win ahead of home favourite Matthias Lanzinger (1:40.90). Despite finishing sixth in his second run, Switzerland's Michael Bruegger (1:43.56) held on for third.
The performance of the day arguably came in the women's sitting slalom with Austria's Claudia Loesch inflicting a rare defeat on Germany's five-time Sochi 2014 gold medallist Anna Schaffelhuber. Loesch (1:55.19), a winner of two silver medals at March's Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, finished first and second fastest in her two respective runs to push Schaffelhuber (1:56.26) into second. Germany's Anna-Lena Forster (2:01.68) was third.
Great Britain's Millie Knight, together with guide Jen Kehoe (2:10.60), continued their great start to the season with victory in the women's visually impaired. The 15-year-old has yet to lose a Europa Cup race this season, following two wins earlier this week in Pitztal, and beat Korea's Jae Rim Yang and guide Soo Young Lee (2:24.50) in to second.
Germany's slalom Paralympic champion Andrea Rothfuss (1:55.65) eased to victory in the women's standing beating Russia's Mariia Papulova (2:00.62) into second by nearly five seconds. Third was the Netherlands' Anna Jochemsen (2:018.81)
The men's sitting was won by Croatia's Dino Sokolovic (1:47.78) after his two runs placed him fractionally ahead of Japan's Takeshi Suzuki (1:47.97). Third was Germany's Thomas Nolte (1:48.91) following a fast second run.
The IPC Alpine Skiing Europa Cup continues through to Sunday (21 December) and over the next two days skiers will compete in giant slalom and super combined.
The highlight of the 2014/2015 season will be the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships which will be staged in Panorama, Canada, between 28 February and 10 March.
Full results from Friday's races can be found at http://www.paralympic.org/alpine-skiing/calendar-and-results