Paralympic champion Menna Fitzpatrick marked her return to the slopes in style with a third-place finish in the opening World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup event of the season.

The 20-year-old, along with her guide Jennifer Kehoe, clinched the final podium spot in the women’s vision impaired slalom race in Zagreb, Croatia, with an overall time of 2:23.38.

She trailed gold medallist Veronika Aigner, and her guide Elisabeth Aigner, by 14.25 seconds after the Austrian posted a time of 2:09.13 following her two runs.

The silver medal went to Australia’s Melissa Perrine, and her guide Bobbi Kelly, who was 6.80 seconds behind Aigner after finishing with a combined time of 2:15.93.

Fitzpatrick became Britain’s most successful Winter Paralympian at PyeongChang 2018 as she claimed slalom gold, super combined silver, giant slalom silver and super-G bronze.

She defeated Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova in the slalom to win gold in South Korea last year and many were looking forward to the two going head-to-head again in Zagreb.

But the rivalry failed to materialise as Farkasova, who is going for a third consecutive World Cup crown after winning the overall title in the last two seasons, was disqualified.

Three-time Paralympian Kelly Gallagher, a gold medallist in the super-G at Sochi 2014, was also competing in the slalom but was unable to finish her second run.

Elsewhere, fellow Brit Neil Simpson narrowly missed out on the podium in Zagreb, finishing in fourth with his guide Jamie Robertson in the men’s vision impaired slalom.

James Whitley, a two-time Paralympian, also got his season underway with a solid seventh-place finish in the men’s slalom as Iceland’s Hilmar Orvarsson took gold.

The World Cup in Zagreb marked the start of the 2018-19 season after an earlier World Cup event in Sella Nevea, Italy, was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

Sportsbeat 2019

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