Para snowboarding gold medal prospect Ben Tudhope has vowed to hit a new level as he attempts to get Australia off the mark at the Beijing Winter Paralympics.
Tudhope cruised through qualifying on Sunday in Zhangjiakou to reach Monday’s competition, which involves quarter-finals, semi-final then, if he qualifies, a big final.
The world’s No.1 ranked para snowboarder is chasing his breakthrough Paralympic medal at his third Games.
“I’m ready to send it tomorrow because that’s when it really counts,” Tudhope said after qualifying.
“It will be a new level from me tomorrow, new level of riding but I know the whole field will (lift).”
If he’s to reach the pinnacle, 22-year-old Tudhope will have to best his training buddies on ‘Team Unicorn’.
That’s Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari, the defending gold medallist from PyeongChang, and Canadian Alex Massie.
In qualifying, Tudhope finished fourth behind Suur-Hamari, American Garrett Geros and Massie.
“It’s funny competing against one another because we are teammates and we are close but at the end of the day we do an individual sport,” Tudhope said.
“The best way to describe it is we have a great system going.
“All of my team knows what to do on race day and we know how to make it to the finals together and that’s the goal, to make it to the finals as a Unicorn team and anything goes from there.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s para alpine skiers will take on the Super Combined event in Yanqing.
The event, which consists of Super G in the morning and slalom in the afternoon, was moved forward from Tuesday due to concerns over high temperatures and potentially melting snow.
Veteran Mitch Gourley, the 2017 Super Combined world champion, relished the event kicking off the start of technical skiing.
“On the tech side, I’ve been able to get a bit more volume and I’m feeling really good about my GS (giant slalom) skiing, so hopefully that carries through into some solid super G tomorrow,” he said.
“My slalom is a mythical beast and it shows up when it needs to sometimes and sometimes it goes missing.
“But hopefully tomorrow is one of those good days.”
Patrick Jensen and sighted guide Amelia Hodgson will compete in the vision impaired category.
But Sam Tait withdrew from the sitting event on Sunday evening.
The sit-skier was keen to focus on training for grand slalom later in the week.
Tait didn’t finish Saturday’s downhill course then crashed into a gate in Sunday’s Super G.