NorAm Cup to kick off alpine skiing season

By International Paralympic Committee | Dec. 08, 2014, 12:15 p.m. (ET)

More than 40 athletes from four countries are set to gather for the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing NorAm Cup in Aspen, Colorado, from Dec. 9-10, the first high-level races of the 2014-15 para-alpine ski season.

Fresh from the summer break after the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, a series of Paralympic medallists will line-up for slalom and giant slalom races ahead of the 2015 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, Canada, from Feb. 28-March 10.

Headlining the Canadian team is a reunion for 17-year-old Mac Marcoux and brother BJ. BJ returns after an injury ruled him out of guiding at Sochi 2014, where Mac won giant slalom gold with Robin Femy.

"I am coming into Aspen feeling confident and ready to rip," Mac said. "I have had a spectacular pre-season getting in lots of skiing and am feeling like it's going to be a great race season. I am getting graded up for the races and can't wait to start. I am pretty stoked to have the world championships at Pano [Panorama] this year. It is one of my favourite mountains and if all goes well up until then it will be a great series."

Team USA's Danelle Umstead and husband guide Rob will also return in the women's visually impaired to get their 2014-15 campaign underway after winning super-combined bronze in Russia.

The women's sitting will feature a clash between American Laurie Stephens and Canada's Kimberly Joines. Both women made it onto the podium in Sochi across technical and speed events but it was Joines who took bronze in the slalom, beating Stephens into fourth place.

In the men's event, last season's giant slalom world No. 3 Tyler Walker of the United States heads out against fellow top 10 finisher Christopher Devlin-Young, a fixture on the Paralympic stage for Team USA. Prior to Sochi, Walker collected the overall World Cup Globe for the men's sitting, finishing more than 200 points clear of his closest competitor.

His compatriot Stephanie Jallen, her country's highest finisher in the women's slalom standing world rankings in 2013-14 at No. 3, will also compete for honors on home snow.

There is Japanese interest in the men's standing, with Tokai Masahiko hoping to repeat his NorAm success from recent years. Masahiko achieved four podiums in 2013-14, including one win in the giant slalom at Winter Park, USA.

Races begin in Aspen on Tuesday with giant slalom and conclude on Wednesday with slalom.

Panorama 2015 will feature around 130 athletes from 30 countries and will be the biggest gathering of international alpine skiers since Sochi 2014.

Overall, World and Europa Cup rankings for 2014-15 are available throughout the season at www.paralympic.org/alpine-skiing/rankings.