France, Italy, Norway and Russia name their main rivals at the Sakhalin-2020 World Cup
Four more teams arrived in Sakhalin for the World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup.
These were athletes from France, Italy, and Norway, as well as two visually impaired skiers from Russia. The foreign athletes are visiting the island region for the first time. Some of them have never been to Russia. At the exit from the airport, they shared their impressions of the trip and named their main rivals at the upcoming competition.
France will be represented by four well-known skiers, among them multiple Paralympic champion Marie Bochet.
"The trip was perfect. I feel good! It is my first time in Sakhalin. As for Russia, I was only in Sochi. Honestly, I’ve never even heard of this place. Your country is very big, so the island will be a real discovery for me. I would really like to see more of Sakhalin, but we have a very tight schedule ... I would be happy if I could find some time to explore Sakhalin," said Bochet. "I want to see the slopes and other participants. Among competitors, for myself, I consider the real opponent only Russia."
Paralympic medallist from PyeongChang 2018 Giacomo Bartagnolli agreed. According to him, Russian athletes are very serious, so competing with them in the same disciplines will not be easy. Also among the main rivals, he noted athletes from Slovakia.
"I have not heard anything about Sakhalin before, but I look forward to seeing how everything will be here. We participate in all disciplines, we brought 10 pairs of skis with us,” Bartagnolli said.
Russian skier, two-time Paralympic champion and three-time bronze medallist of the Paralympic Winter Games (2014, 2018), World Cup winner Valery Redkozubov has not yet managed to get acquainted with the field of athletes at this World Cup, but he knows for sure that Bartagnoli will become one of the most serious opponents.
Redkozubov is in Sakhalin for the first time, just like most of the other participants of this World Cup.
"I mostly hear only positive things about Sakhalin. I know that you have an excellent ski base, good slopes, infrastructure," Redkozubov said.
Norway will be represented by only one athlete, Jesper Pedersen, winner of the gold medal in giant slalom and bronze in super combined (sitting) at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
"This is my first time in Russia, and I saw Sakhalin only on the map when I was at the Paralympics in Korea,” the athlete said. “I am interested in this place. I want to see the slopes and check them out.
"I consider Andrew Kurka from the USA to be my main opponent. He is a very strong athlete. But I need to see who else has arrived here to participate. I train a lot, so I think that I have a good chance of winning. I will fight to the end."The Sakhalin-2020 World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup will be held in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk from 9-21 February.