Helene Ripa

Helene Ripa


After her leg was amputated above the knee in 1986 due to cancer, Ripa initially swam competitively for her country at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games.

But in just three seasons on the competitive Para Nordic skiing circuit, Ripa has won gold at a Paralympic Winter Games and has medalled at two World Championships.

Having debuted in 2012, the Swede went onto win the sprint classic world title on home snow in only her second major international competition. The following season, Ripa was to come second at the World Cup Finals in Sochi, giving her rivals an indication of what they could expect on the same trails just over one year later.

Ripa, a graphic designer by trade, originally tried Para Nordic skiing in 2006 when she was on holiday. Encouraged by her husband, she eventually found a prosthetic that felt good enough and decided to go for the Paralympic dream once again.

It was indeed at Sochi 2014 that Ripa really began to shine. Beating Ukrainian Paralympic silver medallist Iullia Batenkova into first place by a fraction of a second in the long distance classic, Ripa had firmly made her mark on the women’s standing field.

She will try to do that again at the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau, Germany, against her rival from recent seasons, Oleksandra Kononova of Ukraine.


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

Husband Ronnie Pettersson
English, Swedish
Higher education
Graphic Design - Stockholm University: Sweden

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began Para skiing in 2006 while on holiday in Are, Sweden.
Why this sport?
"My husband introduced me to cross-country skiing. I began to compete for fun, but ended up doing great. Eventually I got a better prosthetic, and was inspired to go for the Paralympics."
Club / Team
Haninge SOK: Stockholm, SWE

International debut

Competing for

General interest

Mountain biking, swimming, kayaking. (Facebook page, 24 Aug 2016;, 31 Mar 2015)
Most influential person in career
Her husband Ronnie Pettersson. (Athlete, 07 Mar 2014)
Hero / Idol
Swedish cross-country skier Daniel Richardsson. (Athlete, 07 Mar 2014)
In October 2014 she strained muscles in her foot while training. (, 23 Jan 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Everything is possible." (Athlete, 07 Mar 2014)
Awards and honours
She was Sweden's flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi. (, 16 Mar 2014)
Other sports
She competed in swimming at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, and in canoe sprint at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. (, Sep 2016)
Her right leg was amputated above the knee in 1986 after she was diagnosed with cancer. "When I was 14, I had problems with pain in my right knee. It was not so bad at first, but the pain and swelling got worse and worse. After about six months I was referred to hospital, where it was discovered that I had cancer and my leg was amputated. I had no chemotherapy or radiation, just Interferon intramuscularly once a day for five years, as well as blood tests and chest X-rays once a month for the first year and later more often. I was declared healthy after 10 years." (Facebook page, 24 Aug 2016; Athlete, 07 Mar 2014;, 02 Feb 2014)


Unit Date Rank
IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships Solleftea (Solleftea, Sweden)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Sprint - Classic Standing Final 2013-02-25 1
Women's Long Distance - Free Style Standing Final 2013-02-27 9999
Women's Middle Distance - Classic Standing Final 2013-03-05 3
Paralympic Winter Games 2014 (Sochi, Russia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 15 km Standing Final Round 2014-03-10 1
Women's 1 km Sprint Standing Qualification 2014-03-12 15
4x2.5 km Mixed Relay Final Round 2014-03-15 2
Women's 5 km Standing Final Round 2014-03-16 15
2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships Cable (Cable, United States of America)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Sprint - Classic Standing Race 1 2015-01-28 2
Women's Middle Distance - Classic Standing Race 1 2015-01-31 3
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's KL3 Heat 1 2016-09-14 3
Women's KL3 Semifinal 2016-09-14 2
Women's KL3 Final 2016-09-15 5
2017 IPC Nordic skiing World Championships Finsterau, GER (Finsterau, Germany)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Sprint - Free Style Standing Final 2017-02-12 12
Mixed Relay Final 2017-02-15 2
Women's Long Distance - Classic Standing Final 2017-02-16 7