By Paul Osborne

The inaugural IPC European Para Snow Sport Youth Circuit has been celebrated with a video release ©Marcus Hartmann/IPCA video has been released by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing celebrating the success of the inaugural IPC European Para Snow Sport Youth Circuit.

The 15-month long circuit included five camps for more than 50 youngsters with an impairment aged between 10 and 17.

It gave young skiers the opportunity to compete independently from adults, providing a fairer platform for these skiers to develop and compete on an international stage.

"One of the objectives is to build a circuit for the youth and children," said Sylvana Mestre, chairperson for IPC Alpine Skiing.

"The youngsters were competing with the grown-ups and this was not fair for them.

"This is why we started the youth circuit."

The young athletes travelled around Europe together to venues in Spain, Slovenia, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy between January 2013 and April 2014, visiting slopes in each of the countries along the way.

After training and learning exercises, the camps concluded with an event under race conditions with overall points trophies awarded in sitting, standing and visually impaired classifications.

Special sessions were run to introduce athletes to anti-doping, the media, nutrition, equipment and technology, while the skiers were also given training on the snow by the likes of 10-time Paralympic champion Martin Braxenthaler of Germany.

The video itself follows a group of these athletes on their journey through the circuit, giving a unique look into the experiences met by the youngsters and receiving first-hand feedback from the young Paralympic hopefuls as they come to terms with the opportunity presented to them.

"I learnt that I can be friends with the other skiers but they are my enemies too," said Jeroen Kampschreur, a Dutch skier who was part of the circuit.

"My biggest goal is the Paralympics in 2018 in Pyeongchang, but first I'd like to have the qualification for Europe and World Cup races," added Germany's Bjorn Bhenke, winner of the overall youth men's sitting crown.

In the video, Kampschreur and a group of fellow young Dutch skiers go on a trip to Sochi 2014 to watch Paralympians such as Austria's Markus Salcher and Claudia Loesch and France's Marie Bochet in action.

Salcher, Loesch and Bochet were all part of the very first youth snow development camp in 2007, which, like the latest circuit, helped hone future the athletes' skills, however, did not have the competitive races at the end of each camp.

The latest circuit was organised and implemented by IPC Alpine Skiing and financially supported by the European Commission, the Global Sports Development Foundation, Atos, and the Agitos Foundation.

It was delivered with the help of the European Paralympic Committee, Play and Train, the Centre Vidm Cilj, the Netherlands Ski Federation, the German National Paralympic Committee and the Freewhite Ski Team.

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