Chris Vos ‘pretty stoked’ to start season

Dutch teenager to get first taste of competitive action in Landgraaf

a male Para snowboarder © • Jim Hall

Chris Vos said he feels nervous “in a good way” to race his first competition of the World Para Snowboard 2017-18 season.

The 19-year-old Dutch sensation headlines a competitive field of riders in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, for a pair of banked slalom competitions. A Europa Cup will take place Tuesday (14 November), followed by World Cup races on Wednesday and Thursday (15-16 November).

“[I’m] pretty excited that it’s a new season and the races are in front of me now,” Vos said. “A little bit nervous but in a good way. But yeah, pretty stoked.”

Vos is entering with confidence from last season, where he defended both his men’s SB-LL1 gold medals at the World Championships in Big White, Canada. He also finished the season on a high note with wins in the last World Cup in PyeongChang, South Korea, that also acted as the Paralympic Winters Games Test Event.

Although he is familiar with the indoor slopes in Landgraaf, having won both Europa and World Cup events last year, Vos said there are still uncertainties.

“Landgraaf is a little hard to say because the snow is not like anywhere else. It’s pretty different,” he said. “Sometimes the athletes are responding a little different to it. Sometimes it’s not their real level.

“But because this is the first race, I’m a bit more nervous than normal because I don’t know how the guys are. I didn’t see them at all summer. How fit are they? How are they snowboarding?”

Vos’ toughest competitor is expected to be the USA’s Mike Schultz, who already has a race under his board after taking third at the first World Cup of the season in Treble Cone, New Zealand. The US snowboarder also gave Vos a run for his medals at Big White 2017 with silver in the banked slalom.

PyeongChang 2018 will be Vos’ second Paralympic Winter Games, and he believes it could be his year.

“Sochi [2014] was a really big opportunity and dream come true,” said the reigning Paralympic champion. “It was a really good experience for me to ride a race there and didn’t have any goals.

“Now we are four years later. I’m 19 but still young and I think this should be my Paralympic Games. … I’m going out for it this year. I’m riding well and I’m fit.”

With only three World Cups before March’s Games, Vos said he will compete at able-bodied events to maintain form.

He is confident with his riding. But what is left for the next four months is to stay healthy.

“First I need to make sure I don’t break anything,” Vos said.

“Second, I train four years... But even that, in the boardercross, it can go anyway in a split second. I have a goal to win a medal. It can be a medal or it can be nothing. So I think I look at every race with zero expectations. I know what I can do, but I don’t know what impact the weather will have [and other] stuff like that. I know the qualification [runs], I can do well. But in the race I just need to go fast and see what happens. I’ll just wait for the big day to come and I’ll be ready.”

Around 100 athletes from 20 nations are expected to compete at the Europa Cup and World Cup in Landgraaf this week. Complete and live results will be available online