Newly appointed member of the 2014 Australian Paralympic Winter Team Melissa Perrine has celebrated her selection by winning a silver medal at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup in St Moritz, Switzerland this morning.
Perrine, 25, won silver in the giant slalom, finishing 6.74 seconds behind world number one Henrietta Farkasova of Slovakia and almost one second in front of world number three Aleksandra Frantceva of Russia.
Perrine, who is ranked number five in the world in giant slalom, continues her strong form leading into March’s Paralympic Games, having already won two gold, two silver and one bronze medal on the North American leg of the World Cup season.
Together with her sighted guide Andrew Bor, Australian Paralympic Winter Head Coach Steve Graham says Perrine has improved out of sight in recent months and puts it down to consistent, hard training.
“Mel skied really well today. This time last year at World Cups she was finishing 16 and 10 seconds behind the Slovakian and Russian girls respectively. That’s a huge improvement,” said Graham.
“It was very challenging conditions today and she was our best result on a tough day.”
The team also saw sit-skier Victoria Pendergast claim a bronze medal, however there were only three competitors in the race. Currently ranked 13 in the world, Pendergast was today named on the Australian Paralympic Winter Team as Australia’s first female sit skier.
Australia’s men were unable to add to the team’s medal tally, with dangerous conditions proving to hamper them the most.
Equal world number one in giant slalom, Mitchell Gourley finished in fourth position, disappointingly just 2.50 seconds outside the medals, while Toby Kane, who skis on one leg, finished in ninth place.
“It was very icy underfoot and extremely difficult for the one legged skiers on extreme ice,” said Graham.
“Toby finished eight seconds in front of the next one legged skier, so when you look at the results in relation to the conditions on the mountain, it’s quite good.”
The alpine skiing team will continue to compete in St Moritz, before heading to Austria and then Italy ahead of the Sochi Games which begin 7 March, 2014.
The Australian Paralympic Committee today named a team of 11 athletes, including three snowboarders and two sighted guides for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
The Team includes three-time Paralympian Cameron Rahles-Rahbula who will join the squad in Europe later this week, winter and summer Paralympian Jessica Gallagher, and 14-year-old snowboarder Ben Tudhope.
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place 7-16 March, 2014.
2014 Australian Paralympic Winter Team
Christain Geiger (guide for Jessica Gallagher)
Andrew Bor (guide for Melissa Perrine)
By Rebekka Wake