Path to Pyeongchang: Para snowboarding
With today marking a year to go until the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics, there’s no better time to take a look at how those vying to be a part of ParalympicsGB are shaping up ahead of what could be a stellar year on the snow and ice.
Para snowboarding is the next to get our focus, with a year full of first-time medallists causing a surprise or two on the world stage.
From close calls to podium glory
Having been dealt a season of near-misses and disappointment, Owen Pick may have feared that Lady Luck just wasn’t going to smile on him this season.
But, determined not to be beat down, he was to make his own luck in scintillating style on one of the grandest stages of them all: the Snowboard World Championships in Big White, Canada.
Pick not only rode to third in his very first run of three, but followed that up to take top spot with one to go, valiantly holding off a plethora of pedigree challengers to eventually pick up silver – going 0.40 seconds quicker in the last attempt.
That secured Britain’s first ever medal in the class, with Pick delighted he could finally hammer home years of effort.
“I've been knocking on the door for the last three years behind these guys so I’m really happy with my first podium at the World Champs here at Big White today,” he said.
“And I only missed out on first place by half a second.”
Moore medals for Ben in champion comeback
After winning two medals at the last World Championship two years ago, there may have been some self-inflicted pressure put on the shoulders of Ben Moore.
But by taking bronze in his least-favoured discipline, the Plymouth snowboarder certainly showed that Spain 2015 was no flash in the pan.
Add that to the fact that just two weeks previously Moore had crashed out in the last World Cup before the Championships, and the impressive nature of his feat ramps up even higher.
Memories of that fall were swiftly put aside after an excellent opening run, more than enough for him to take third place – the perfect start to what could be a scintillating 12 months.
He said: “I am so relieved, happy and excited all at the same time. I love Canada and this resort in particular, but wow, I even surprised myself with that run and god it feels good.
“Thanks to the organisers out here for putting on such a good event, the course was in excellent condition.”
Debut season looking up for Barnes-Miller
Despite the World Championships not holding his best results of the season, there are certainly plenty of positives for James Barnes-Miller to look at for the rest of the season.
In what is his first competitive campaign, Barnes-Miller finished fourth in the Snowboard Cross prior to coming to the Championships.
It was unfortunately not to be his time in Canada, though a finish in his final run is certainly not something to be sniffed at.
Encouragement was also aplenty for Cassie Cava, who delivered another strong performance improving on her seventh in the SBX to finish sixth in this race.
There’s nothing that says preparation for a Winter Paralympic Games than training on the very snow you could be racing on in 12 months’ time.
While there is still plenty of work to do for those looking to be part of ParalympicsGB, some are spending this very day on the hills on Pyeongchang, with the excitement of what’s to come very tangible.
The coming time will also be a great chance to hone in on skills both in and out of competition, with one man in particular confident and excited about what lies ahead.
“This has been an excellent performance from our riders across the board,” said Duncan Freshwater, Performance Director of British Parasnowsport.
“There have been some set backs along the way, but I feel confident that all our riders rode to their absolute potential out here which is all you can ask for.
“These results are very welcome and will hopefully set us up well to redouble our efforts through this summer to mount an even stronger challenge at the Paralympics next year.”