Aussies out to break long golden Paralympic duck
AUSTRALIA'S Winter Paralympians face the prospect of going two decades without a gold medal but they're taking history with a grain of salt leading into PyeongChang.
A lot has changed in para-snow sports since Michael Milton won four gold medals and fellow alpine skier Bart Bunting and his sighted guide Nathan Chivers two at Salt Lake City in 2002.
There will be about 150 more athletes competing over the next nine days and athlete classes in alpine skiing were reduced from 14 to three (standing, sitting and vision-impaired) three Games ago, meaning fewer medals are on offer.
Chef de mission Nick Dean said athletes are conscious of the 16-year gold medal drought but was adamant ending it is not the be-all and end-all of these Games.
"It's harder to win a medal now," he said.
"My definition of success is maybe (an athlete) doing a PB on the day.
"But we never lose sight that these are elite athletes and they aim for the top. Someone who comes fourth is probably going to be distraught.
"I reckon we've got athletes in the top five in alpine skiing and snowboarding so I'd be happy with one, two, three medals and anything above that."
Five Aussies to watch in PyeongChang
MITCH GOURLEY - standing alpine skiing (downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G, super combined): Medal-less after two Games, Gourley heads into PyeongChang as super combined world champion. Ranked in the top 10 for all disciplines.
MELISSA PERRINE - standing alpine skiing (downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G, super combined): Has claimed medals in all four of her previous World Cup competitions, including a slalom gold in December. Top five rankings in three events.
JOANY BADENHORST - snowboarding (cross, banked slalom): Has 22 World Cup and three world championship medals since Sochi 2014, when she failed to compete after being seriously injured in a training crash. Topped her classification (LL2) in World Cup points across the two disciplines this season.
SIMON PATMORE - snowboarding (cross, banked slalom): An athletics Paralympic bronze medallist in 200m T46, the 30-year-old began competing on the snow in 2014. Has risen to fifth in the world in slalom and sixth in cross, in which he claimed a World Cup gold this season.
BEN TUDHOPE - snowboarding (cross, banked slalom): Competed in Sochi as a 14 year old. Has not been outside the top 10 in seven top-tier events this season.