ESPOT, Spain – Kurt Oatway, the veteran of this year’s Para alpine skiing team at the world championships, isn’t feeling the blues as a new quadrennial begins for the next Paralympic Games set for 2026 in Milan.
It’s actually year two of the Paralympic cycle that is the toughest for him.
‘’It’s the year when there’s no Paralympic Games and no world championships,’’ said Oatway, a 2018 men’s sit skiing Paralympic Games champion who is coming back from injury this year. ‘’It’s a different kind of season because there is more focus on consistency with the World Cup overall titles as the main prizes.’’
Alexis Guimond, a bronze medallist in Beijing, says the emotional high from a Paralympic Games season is impossible to match.
‘’The Games are the highest summit for a Para athlete,’’ he said. ‘’It’s so tough to come back emotionally to that point. However I see this season as an opportunity to start fresh, take some time for myself, and to keep growing for the next Games
For Frédérique Turgeon, this post Paralympic season is timely since she is coming off an injury that kept her out of last winter’s Games.
‘’It puts less pressure on me as I try to get back to full form,’’ said Turgeon, a triple medallist at the 2019 worlds. ‘’As well it’s a team bonding period. There are usually some changes after the Games so we try to get to know each other better and there is more time for personalized training with our coaches.’’
The least experienced team member at the worlds this week is Brian Rowland of Merrickville, Ont. At this point in his career he is after as much experience as possible both in training and competition.
‘’I’m eager to have more starts,’’ said Rowland, who competed at his first worlds and first Paralympic Games in 2022. ‘’I’m really excited about this season because there’s quite a few events and that’s really going to benefit me for my preparations over the next four years.’’
Even three years before the next Games, the athletes expect valuable lessons learned this winter to eventually pay off in Milan in 2026.
The 2023 Para Alpine Skiing World Championships are currently taking place in Espot, Spain. For more information, click here.