With a world championship worthy warm-up programme together with Benni Raich and a review of the World Cup cross-country skiing track together with the mentors David Kreiner and Mario Stecher, the cadre athletes of the Austrian Disabled Sports Association started their preparations for the 2023 Virtus Ski World Championships in Seefeld on 8 December.
The official launch event took place in the Seefeld Sports Arena in the presence of numerous supporters and representatives of the municipality, state and federal government and the ÖBSV.
For the World Championships for people with mental disabilities, held for the first time on Austrian soil, the athletes have high expectations and even more motivation. The first exchange at eye level with the mentors for both disciplines raises their self-esteem above all.
A lack of snow prevented classic ski training between the gate poles, so the schedule was changed at short notice to ski gymnastics and race preparation in the run-out of the ski jump. The two-time Olympic champion and alpine mentor of the World Championships, Benni Raich, was allowed to share many of his tips and tricks.
“It’s all been discussed already. The tips have to remain secret, of course,” says the three-time World Champion mischievously, “Michael Konrad also trains with our training group at Hochzeiger time and again. It is very, very
nice to see the enthusiasm. I love this unfiltered way the most and it is a great enrichment for all of us.”
After a first joint training session on the official World Cup cross-country skiing track exactly one year ago, the Nordic Director of the Austrian Ski Federation and mentor of the Virtus Ski World Championships, Mario Stecher, was once again able to exchange ideas with the Nordic athletes. “With joy you can do a lot and then
success will follow!
I think sport brings people together and that is important for our society. I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of sport here. There is regular sport, there is disabled sport, I think it is important for the people here and also for us as athletes that there are people who support it, like all of us here today, but of course also the spectators. You also get back a lot, of course you must never forget that. From that point of view, it’s also a bit of a selfish thing and I have to say, I’m very, very happy to be here.
A great event, the enthusiasm of the people, above all also very, very important that the parents support and promote everything. The sparkle in their eyes is simply wonderful. A lot can be done with joy and then success will follow! All the best!
For me, it’s more like a seminar for enthusiasm and inspiration that spills over. I think every child starts with sport and exercise because it’s fun; at some point you get lost in details and little things and here you get the unfiltered and the total joy and that inspires me too. The athletes are so authentic and when they do it like that
in March, success is what follows. Especially in an environment like Seefeld. I’ve also always really enjoyed doing my laps on the cross-country track and going over the ski jump here. Just soaking it all up and in the race the race is important, afterwards getting to know and being with the other athletes is just as important.
Today’s event is a wonderful sign that the achievements of people with disabilities, whether in sport, in professional life or in normal everyday life, are more appreciated; that we notice that not only is performance achieved here with a lot of enthusiasm, but that others say that this is a top performance and that it can be put
on a par with what others do in regular sport, in Paraolympic sport. It is nice that this Virtus WM exists. And it exists because many people with a lot of empathy, ambition and commitment make it possible.
With 92 days to go until the World Championships, I am thrilled and excited. A lot is going on around our joint Virtus Ski World Championships. There are a lot of people I would like to thank, because without their help this World Championships could not take place. First of all, Julian Hadschieff, our first supporter and main sponsor. I
would especially like to thank a group of people without whom our athletes could not easily come from Carinthia, Upper Austria or Vorarlberg to a squad training in Tyrol. They can’t do it on their own, it takes committed parents who travel thousands of kilometres a year with their children and young people. Thank you!
Today is just perfect – the weather, the snow has finally come and at just the right time, an insane amount of people have come here for the kick off. From the Seefeld venue to the federation and beyond, everyone is pulling together. I am grateful for that! The preparations are going very well, we currently have over a hundred registered athletes from 13 nations. I am confident that we will also get Spain and America.