February 11, 2014 (ISN) – After five top finishes on the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup circuit in January, Austrian standing skier Markus Salcher received 42 per cent of the public’s vote on Paralympic.org to be named the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Athlete of the Month.
Salcher started his successful month at the World Cup event in Panorama, Canada, where he won the downhill and super-combined events and finished second in the giant slalom.
In Copper Mountain, Colorado in the USA, he took second and third in his giant slalom races. But he immediately regained his composure upon arrival in Tignes, France, winning the downhill, super-G and giant slalom disciplines at the month’s third and final World Cup event.
“I think winning IPC Athlete of the Month is a sign for me that many people are following me on the road to Sochi,” Salcher said. “For me, it was surprising that I had (such great performances) in the giant slalom in January. I had done a lot of technical training in summer, and now it’s paying off, as I’m fighting for medals in the event.”
The Klagenfurt native, born with the right side of his body paralysed, was a slightly taken aback by his January success, especially considering how strong the men’s standing class has been on the road to next month’s Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
He competes in a sport class that also includes his teammate and former able-bodied skier Matthias Lanzinger, France’s three-time Paralympic medallist Vincent Gauthier-Manuel and Russia’s up-and-coming 16-year-old Alexey Bugaev.
Salcher’s best disciplines have typically been the downhill and super-G, but he now finds himself atop the giant slalom World Cup rankings, which is Lanzinger’s prime event.
“The 10 years between us gives him more experience than me,” Salcher said of Lanzinger.
“But that could be an advantage for me, too. I can stop thinking about the age gap once I get into the start gate, however for him, he will keep thinking about it because it could be the last chance for him to get a Paralympic medal at age 32. But I have time because I’m 22. The next Games after Sochi I’d be only 26, so I already see myself going to two more Games afterwards to win more medals.
“But the focus is now on Sochi and on a medal,” Salcher added. “It doesn’t matter what the colour is – a medal is my goal.”
Salcher beat five other finalists for IPC Athlete of the Month award, including: German alpine skier Anna Schaffelhuber, American snowboarder Mike Shea, Japanese wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda, and Russian Nordic skiers Roman Petushkov and Alena Kaufman.
Nominations for IPC Athlete of the Month are compiled from submissions by National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and International Federations (IFs).