February 24 - The 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing World Championships got underway with a colourful opening ceremony in Sollefteå as more than 150 athletes from 15 nations geared up to compete for podium places at the event.
The first day of action tomorrow in the cross-country skiing and biathlon events in the Swedish ski resort and comes just over a year before the competitors head to Russia for the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics.
IPC Governing Board member Rita van Driel explained how the Championships are vital to the athletes' preparations for next year's Games.
"In just over one year's time most of us will be getting ready for the next Paralympic Winter Games," she said.
"I am confident that many athletes will be using these Championships to check where they are at with their own preparations for next year, whilst keeping a close eye on the performances of their competitors."
Van Driel also praised the talent of the field and highlighted how some of the rivalries in the sport, such as that between Russia sit-skiers Irek Zaripov and Roman Petushkov – multiple Paralympic and world champion Zaripov will be challenged by Petushkov as he tries to defend his titles from the last World Championships, will make for an exciting tournament in Sweden.
"Since the 2011 World Championships in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, a number of great rivalries have developed on the nordic skiing circuit and I expect these to take centre stage here this week," she said.
"I'm also delighted at some of the new young talent emerging and believe some of them will surprise us here in Sollefteå by coming out of nowhere to win a medal or even a world title."
The World Championships can be watched live online, with the IPC streaming the events from Sweden on its YouTube channel.
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