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Paralympics Australia’s 2022 Rookie of the Year, Josh Hanlon, has maintained his exciting form before the World Cup Finals in Italy next month, matching his impressive slalom result from the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Sit-skier Hanlon was among a tight contingent of Australians who competed in challenging conditions at the FIS Para Alpine World Championships in Espot, Spain last weekend. He was joined by two-time Paralympian, fellow sit-skier Sam Tait, and vision impaired skier Pat Jensen and guide Ethan Jackson. It was Jensen’s and Jackson’s first major event together after Jensen skied with guide Amelia Hodgson at the Beijing Games.

Hanlon captured a stunning sixth in slalom sitting at the Paralympics, despite only a couple of years’ experience in the sport. He backed that up at Espot, securing another sixth placing, while also competing for the first time in the full complement of events.

Hanlon came 14th in both the downhill and super-G and did not finish in the other two events, alpine combined and giant slalom. However, he saved his best performance for last, coming sixth in the slalom, setting up for a strong training block with the team in Italy before the Finals, which will be held at the venue for the 2026 Paralympic Winter Games.

“It was really nice to finish the week with sixth,” Hanlon said. “It’s been awesome to have my first crack at all the events.” Para-alpine coach Ali Bombardier said the team worked well to deal with difficult weather conditions. “The wind and snow made for a challenging 10 days of competition,” she said. “This brought the team together, working to stay motivated and ready to race when the opportunities presented themselves.

“The team became closer and supported each other and we now look forward to a solid training block and World Cup Finals in Italy in March.”

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Jensen and guide Jackson came ninth in super-G, seventh in alpine combined but crashed in downhill training which ruled them out of the final speed event. They recovered well to finish seventh in giant slalom but failed to finish their second run of the slalom event.

“The most important thing is to keep pushing no matter what happens,” Jensen said. “Ethan and I had a pretty bad accident during the downhill training run, but we persevered and pushed past the pain that we were both feeling and still managed to get some decent skiing done in the GS and slalom first run.”

Tait said he enjoyed getting back into competition after the Paralympics last year. “My favourite event for World Champs was coming ninth in downhill. It’s my favourite event,” said Tait, who also came 11th in super-G and 13th in giant slalom.

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia and Snow Australia
Posted: 2 February 2023
Image: seeyouatgate3