November 22 - In a repeat of the results from yesterday's Europa Cup competition, American Mike Shea and Bibian Mentel of the Netherlands once again topped the standings in Landgraaf at the first International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing Snowboard World Cup of the season.
Shea looked in impressive form during the lower-limb impairment competition as he completed his three runs over the SnowWorld course more than four seconds quicker than he had yesterday, taking the World Cup win in a time of 1min 03:08sec.
The 30-year-old finished ahead of compatriot and world number three Keith Gabel, who improved on his bronze medal finish from the day before with a time 1:07:01.
Third place on the podium this time round went to Finland's Matti Suur-Harmani who raised a few eyebrows by stringing together three impressive runs to finish with an overall time of 1:10:81.
Former World Cup winner Shea's strong start to the season has placed him firmly in the favourite's enclosure for Sochi 2014, where snowboarding will make its debut on the Paralympic programme.
The American, though, acknowledged there is a long way to go before then and paid tribute to the organisers of the event in SnowWorld, the world's biggest indoor ski resort.
"I don't look too far ahead; I take it day by day," he said.
"I know I'm favourite [for Sochi] but I will have to win first.
"This [SnowWorld] is totally different from the competitions outside.
"Although it feels a little claustrophobic it's fantastic that they can organise a cross in such a small building."
In the men's upper-limb impairment class, the podium from the Europa Cup competition was replicated as once again Roberto Cavicchi just proved that much quicker than his compatriot David Preziosi, finishing just under three seconds clear of his teammate in a time of 1:14:04 to complete an Italian one-two.
Spaniard Adrian Garcia Fresneda had to make do with bronze for a second successive day.
It was a similar story in the women's lower-limb impairment event with the top three from yesterday filling the podium places again, and in the same order.
Mentel completed her home double in imperious fashion as she clocked an overall time of 1:11:64 to finish over 10 seconds clear of great rival Amy Purdy of the United States.
"I'm happy about my victory at the Europa Cup and World Cup," said the 2012 world champion.
"The level of the other contestants is increasing which is good to see."
Purdy, second behind Mentel in the world rankings last year, acknowledged the class of her Dutch rival afterwards, but vowed to continue to work hard and is confident she can become an even bigger threat tas the season progresses.
"She is so good and experienced, but the gap between us is getting smaller," said the 34-year-old.
"I've learned more about what I can improve and paid attention to how Bibian does it.
"That's what I'm going to focus on when I get home.
"It isn't frustrating to see Bibian finish first.
"I look at it as a challenge for Sochi."
Mentel's teammate Lisa Bunschoten secured her second bronze of the meeting with a time of 1:21:73.
As preparations for Sochi continue to gather pace, next up for the world's top Para-snowboarders is the IPC World Cup at Copper Mountain in Colorado which is due to run from January 17 to 19.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
November 2013: Shea and Mentel warm-up for IPC snowboard World Cup with Europa Cup wins