Team USA will put it all on the snow this week with medal aspirations at the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships in Big White, Canada, the largest event ahead of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The U.S. brings a full squad of 19 athletes to Canada, the largest delegation at the world championships, in hopes of challenging for spots on the podium against the world’s best snowboarders. Banked slalom competition will begin on Saturday, Feb. 4 with snowboard-cross being contested on Tuesday, Feb. 7th. The team had great success at the most recent world cup at Big White, finishing with 14 medals in 2016.
Big White will see the world championship debut of Team USA’s rising star Mike Minor (Waymart, Pennsylvania) who is only in his second international season but has already made an instant impression on the sport as the defending banked slalom world cup champion and an undefeated run this year. Minor currently sits at the top of the rankings in both snowboard-cross and banked slalom. The 26-year-old will have to face off against Austria’s banked slalom world champion Patrick Mayrhofer and Italy’s snowboard-cross world champion Manuel Pozzerle for a chance at his first title in the men’s upper limb class.
Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii), Mike Shea (Castaic, California) and Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) will seek to repeat another stars and stripes sweep from the 2014 Games on the world championship stage in the men’s SB-LL2 class. Shea claimed the banked slalom title in 2015 while Strong took home silver in both events.
The event will also see the return of 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist Amy Purdy (Las Vegas, Nevada), who was forced to miss the beginning of the season after a serious illness and will seek her first world championship medal in snowboard-cross. She will face-off against U.S. teammates Brenna Huckaby (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and Nicole Roundy (Salt Lake City, Utah) in the women’s SB-LL1 race. Huckaby also returns after taking off last season with hopes of defending her snowboard-cross title and upgrading her silver from 2015 in banked slalom.
Other top U.S. athletes competing at the 2017 world championships include Mike Schultz (Saint Cloud, Minnesota), current men’s snowboard-cross SB-LL1 world cup leader Mark Mann (Woodbury, Minnesota) and 2014 Paralympian Megan Harmon (Huntsville, Alabama).