Austrian Nationals to get things started
With the World Cup opening in Montafon, Austria being near (Dec. 4th and 5th), some of the world's finest are gathering together on the Pitztal glacier this weekend – not only for the Austrian SX Nationals but also to compete in the first Europa Cup event of the 2015-16 winter season.
On the women's side of things, it looks like the Austrian title will be decided between Katrin Ofner and Andrea Limbacher.
Ofner, the reigning champion, has collected a total of eight national titles so far and therefore hopes to clinch number nine on Saturday.
“All titles were earned the hard way, and I will try to add another one for sure. However, I know that everything has to come together if I want to jump on the top spot of the podium again,” said Ofner prior to the race weekend.
Her main rival Limbacher has also a clear goal in mind: “Of course I want to do well at our Nationals. But both races are also a very good test for me prior to the World Cup opener. It's very important to build up this special race feeling in strong heats and in a contest situation,” stated the reigning world champion.
Both Austrian ladies will face a strong and deep international field led by Canadians Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa who had celebrated a 1-2 punch at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
In the men's competition, it's Thomas Zangerl who will be high-profile as the 32-year-old from Tyrol is not only aiming for the title three-peat but also his career's fourth.
“I'm happy that things finally get started. The field at the Pitztal glacier is very strong which makes the Nationals a real yardstick,” explained Zangerl who will try to hold off his fellow countrymen Andreas Matt, Christoph Wahrstoetter, who will celebrate his comeback from an ACL injury suffered one year ago, Thomas Harasser, Johannes Rohrweck as well as Adam Kappacher and Robert Winkler in the race for the title.
However, there are also some strong international ski racers who want to do well in Austria such as reigning world champion Filip Flisar (SLO), Canada's Brady Leman, Christopher Delbosco and David Duncan, Thomas Bohnacker and Paul Eckert from Germany, Italy's very own Diego Castellaz plus Russian athletes Sergey Ridzik and Egor Korotkov.
The programme and results from the Pitztal events can be checked here.