Positive start to Para-Nordic World Champs for GB
British athletes have shown their progress in the opening days of the 2017 Para-Nordic World Championships in Finsterau, Finland.
The three Brits in competition hail from a military background and Terry Ahrens, Steve Arnold and Scott Meenagh are all eyeing qualification to the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Ahrens, 47, is the only one of the trio to have Paralympic experience, having represented Great Britain at the 1998 Paralympics, where he recorded a 6th place finish. With the support of the Armed Forces Para Snowsports Team, Ahrens has returned to biathlon and has already returned to the snow for two World Cups this season.
The first race of the Championships saw Ahrens compete in the 12.5km biathlon in the LW6 classification for athletes with impairments affecting their hands and arms. Despite a good shoot, missing only five out of 20, Ahrens lost time on the sprint, something that he looked the rectify the following day, when all three brits were in action in the cross country sprint.
Ahrens failed to make the final, but after his second event of the Championships he said:
“Big improvement today. Across the flat and down the hills were good, but I still have tired legs from yesterday, so struggled a little on the hills. All in all, I am happy with today’s race, just need to focus now on finding a few more seconds.”
"I am happy with today’s race, just need to focus now on finding a few more seconds." Terry Ahrens
Scott Meenagh and Steve Arnold have transitioned into Nordic from summer sports, and Finsterau marks their World Championship debut in the LW12 classification for double amputees, where they race on sit skis.
Speaking after his sprint, former rower Scott Meenagh said: “I enjoyed today's race, a big step forward from my last sprint effort. I had fire in the belly but focused on keeping ice in the mind and controlling the technical areas of the course. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the competition.”
"I enjoyed today's race, a big step forward from my last sprint effort." Scott Meenagh
Speaking after his race Steve Arnold said: “First race ever completed, I still have a lot to learn in this new sport but am fairly happy with how it went today (apart from fall in finishing straight). I think today's race will be my worst event at this competition, being the 1km sprint my lack of technic and turning control let me down but I can't really complain with only eight days experience on snow. A few days now until I race again so more training and time on the snow, let's see what the 15km and 7.5km bring.”
Elizabeth Winfield, Team Leader said: “Despite our athletes not making the final in the sprints it was still a great day with two athletes well inside the minimum Paralympic qualification.
“The sprint race brings challenges as there is no room for error in such a short race so was quiet technically demanding for Steve in his first race and with limited time on snow. That said, having fallen once it was still a very respectable time and I am now excited to see this Athlete in the 15 and 7.5km race.
"The sprint race brings challenges." Elizabeth Winfield
“Scott and Terry had impressive performances and both have come such a long way since racing in Finland. Both halved their World Cup Points since competing in the same race in the World Cup in Finland prior to Christmas, meaning that both Athletes were inside the minimum Paralympic qualification. Still areas to improve but a great to see the improvements that have been made over such a short period.”
Meenagh and Anrold will be back in action on February 16, when they will compete in the Cross Country 15km.