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January 4, 2014 (ISN) – The penultimate IPC European Para Snow Sport Youth Circuit is set to begin on Sunday (5 January) in Bischofwiesen, Germany, bringing together more than 50 youngsters with an impairment looking to train and improve their skills.

The 18-month long circuit which started in January 2013 involves 10-17 year-olds from five countries of all levels of ability. It has already taken in some of the best skiing areas in Europe including the slopes of La Molina, Spain, Rogla, Slovenia, and the artificial slopes of SnowWorld Landgraaf in the Netherlands.

From 5-9 January 2014 young skiers will attend training and workshops in the Ski Area Gotschen in the fourth camp of the circuit, before heading to Sestriere, Italy, from 30 March -3 April having no doubt seen some of the their idols compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Sylvana Mestre, Chair of the IPC Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee, said: “The camps provide young people with an opportunity to hone their competitive skills as well as generally improve their technique in alpine skiing, snowboarding and Nordic skiing.

“We also run workshops on anti-doping, nutrition, equipment, technology, the Paralympic Movement and the media so that they get an all-round view of what it takes to perform at their best.

“We have seen how camps of this kind can make a huge difference to up-and-coming stars and they also give young people with an impairment the chance to be involved with snow-sport.”

World beating athletes like France’s Marie Bochet and Austrians Markus Salcher and Claudia Loesch attended the very first development camp in 2006 and have gone on to be firm medal prospects for Sochi 2014 in alpine skiing.

As the youth snow circuit nears its conclusion the competition is warming-up between participating countries Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia and Italy.

At the last camp in Landgraaf, alpine slalom winners included Spaniard Marcel Sole in the men’s visually impaired, German Finn Speiss in the standing and Dutchman Niels de Langen in the sitting races.

Slovenia’s Lucija Planinc won the women’s slalom visually impaired, with fellow country-woman Anja Drev taking top spot in the standing and German Florentine Sclecht taking the sitting crown.

The 2013-14 IPC Alpine Skiing European Para Snow Sport Youth Circuit is organised and supported by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Agitos Foundation with funding from the European Union. Medals for the 2013-14 circuit are being provided free of charge by Palkinto Tukku.

Throughout the circuit, which also involves the European Paralympic Committee, results and rankings from each event will be published at http://www.paralympic.org/youth-snow-circuit.

The fifth and final camp will be staged in Sestriere, Italy, the resort which staged the 2011 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships.