Paralympic Winter Games
04 - 13 March

Virtual reality training propels Adam Hall to bronze

New Zealand's standing Para Alpine skier wins his fourth Winter Paralympic medal in Beijing 09 Mar 2022
New Zealand's Para Alpine skier Adam Hall in action at the 2022 Winter Paralympics
New Zealand's Para Alpine skier Adam Hall in action at the 2022 Winter Paralympics
ⒸGetty Images

Para Alpine skier Adam Hall stood at the top of the slalom slope ahead of Monday's super-combined standing, knowing he needed something special to grab a fourth Paralympic medal at his fifth Games. 

Thankfully, New Zealand's 34-year-old, who was in 15th place after the morning's super-G run, had an advantage over almost everyone else in the field.

"I'd been able to work on some really amazing virtual reality stuff on this hill in particular, which we’ve studied for quite some time now," Hall said after producing the second-fastest slalom run of the day to move up 12 places and claim bronze. 

"The test event was cancelled last season (and) with the virtual reality stuff it gave us an opportunity to be here at the test event without being here, which was really cool."

Strapped into a headset and harness at a facility in Wanaka, New Zealand, Hall has spent countless hours 'skiing' down a slalom slope that until last week most of his rivals had never seen. 

“You put the goggles on, and you have that sense of feel, smell," he said. "(It's) pretty close to the real thing, and gave us a good indication of how it was going to be.

"There’s been so much talk about how intimidating this hill was going to be, how crazy the speed would be." 

Such rare inside knowledge allowed the New Zealander to shrug off the fact he has barely competed since winning slalom gold and super combined bronze at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. 

"I have no words," he said. "It’s unbelievable to make up that much time."

CoVid-19 related travel restrictions kept him away from the World Cup circuit for almost three seasons - but everything around his sport has continued to grow in his absence, and for that he is eternally grateful.  

"There’s so much research and development going into the sport, both in equipment and off the snow," he said. "The sport is progressing so rapidly, and people are catching on. It’s pretty amazing." 

With the slalom and giant slalom to come, both taking place on the hill he knows so well, there is a good chance New Zealand's first five-time Winter Paralympian will be taking more medals back to the technicians in Wanaka. 

"It’s been a crazy road," he said. "A crazy journey."