What To Know Ahead Of This Week's World Para Snowboard Championships

By Brianna Tammaro | March 26, 2019, 6:30 p.m. (ET)

Snowboarder Noah Elliott competes gets air off a jump at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 Team USA's Noah Elliott competes at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

All roads lead back to the World Para Snowboard Championships for Team USA after an exciting year marked by strong world cup performances and the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The U.S. is back on snow in its first major competition since South Korea with a mix of veterans and new faces in red, white and blue. Ahead of tomorrow’s competition, USParalympics.org takes you through the six most important questions for Team USA in Pyha, Finland. 

Who will represent Team USA in Finland?
Nine U.S. athletes will don the red, white and blue in Pyha, including five Paralympians. Mike Schultz (St. Cloud, Minnesota), Noah Elliott (St. Charles, Missouri), Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah), Brittani Coury (Durango, Colorado) and Mike Minor (Waymart, Pennsylvania) all combined for eight medals in PyeongChang. Additionally, four newcomers will be making their world championship debut with Team USA: Zach Miller (Denver, Colorado), Joe Pleban (Fredericksburg, Virginia), Alex Rivera (Columbus, Indiana) and Garrett Geros (Cartersville, Georgia). Gabel and Miller head into world championships after a stellar season on the world cup circuit, both winning six medals each. The U.S. is bringing the largest delegation followed by China and Japan in Finland. 

What is on the line?
Team USA will vie for world titles against more than 65 athletes from 16 different countries at the World Para Snowboard Championships. This is the biggest event since the Paralympic Winter Games just one year ago and is the second-to-last competition of the season ahead of next week’s world cup finals. World champions will get to keep their titles for two years until the next championships in 2021. 

Where are the championships being held?
World championships will be contested at the Pyha Ski Resort in Finland. Pyha is situated just north of the Arctic Circle and is a course Team USA has seen before. The world cup circuit made its second stop of the season in Pyha where several U.S. athletes found success with six medals, including gold won by Minor and Schultz. 

When will Team USA compete?
U.S. athletes will compete in three different events: banked slalom, snowboardcross and the snowboardcross team event, which debuts in Pyha. Competition kicks off with banked slalom on Wednesday, March 27, followed by a day off and training before heading back on snow for snowboardcross on Saturday, March 30. Races culminate with the snowboardcross team event on Sunday, March 31. The U.S. has athletes competing in the following categories: women’s lower limb 1 (LL1), men’s lower limb 1 (LL1), men’s lower limb 2 (LL2) and men’s upper limb (UL).

Why is it significant?
In addition to world titles, the World Para Snowboard Championships will offer a new snowboardcross format for select classes that’s been tested earlier this season in world cup competition, but never at the world championships before. The expansion of the event aligns with able-bodied competition and demonstrates the sport’s growth in recent years. 

With a balance of veterans and up-and-comers on Team USA, the championships will also serve as an opportunity for U.S. athletes to lay the groundwork for the next four-year cycle heading into the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. 

How did the U.S. do at the last world championships?
At the last edition of the world championships in 2017, U.S. athletes took home 10 medals with Minor and Schultz each collecting hardware at their first world championships. Minor will seek to defend his snowboardcross world title in Pyha, while Schultz sets his sights on the only title – a world championship – that’s missing from his already impressive resume. Several other Paralympians will aim to finish on the world championship podium for the first time, including Gabel, Coury and Elliott.

Follow U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding at the 2019 World Para Snowboard Championships on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.