Laurie Stephens competes in the Women's Sitting Giant Slalom at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
For most of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team, the 2020-21 world cup season never arrived at all. For four of them, it lasted just one event, four days back on the slopes this week in Leogang, Austria.
Ravi Drugan, Paralympic gold medalist Andrew Kurka, two-time Paralympic gold medalist Laurie Stephens and David Williams were the four national teamers competing in the Leogang world cup, which consisted of two giant slalom and two slalom events for both men and women. It was a long layoff for all four skiers since their last taste of competition, particularly for Stephens, who didn’t get the chance to defend her overall Crystal Globe title from last season, the fourth one of her career.
Stephens competed in both giant slalom and slalom in Leogang in sitting LW12-1. She placed second in both slalom events and third in one of the giant slaloms and did not finish in the other. Stephens faced stiff competition in Germany’s Anna-Lena Forster, who was unbeaten in world cup competition and won three of four events in Leogang.
Drugan ran third in the first men’s slalom race in the sitting LW12-2 classification. Jeroen Kampschreur of the Netherlands, the current giant slalom leader, took first in front of Norway’s Jesper Pedersen, the Paralympic champion in giant slalom. Williams, in his first year on the national team, did not finish in two giant slalom events.
Kurka’s best performance was fifth place in the second giant slalom race, an impressive result considering Kurka has made his name in speed events and not technical races. Kurka’s Paralympic medals — gold in downhill and silver in super-G at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 — were both in speed events. But with no other world cups available, Kurka opted to get in some extra training in with just over one year to go until the Beijing 2022 Games.