PyeongChang 2018 Sport Weeks: Introduction to alpine skiing

Paralympic winter sports to be featured in depth over next six weeks 08 Jan 2018
By IPC

With two months to go until the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, it is time to start taking a closer look at the sports that will take centre stage in South Korea in March.

Today (8 January) sees the start of our PyeongChang 2018 Sport Weeks. Over the course of the next six weeks, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will showcase each winter sport individually, bringing you everything from history to classification, athletes to watch to the storylines expected in PyeongChang.

This week brings alpine skiing into the spotlight, beginning with an introduction to the sport and its history.

Para alpine skiing is practiced worldwide and features six disciplines: downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G, super combined, and team events. Athletes combine speed and agility while racing down slopes at speeds of around 100km/h.

Competition accommodates male and female athletes with a physical impairment such as spinal injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, blindness/visual impairment and les autres conditions across three categories: standing, sitting and visually impaired.

Skiers with blindness/visual impairment are guided through the course by sighted guides using signals to indicate the course to follow. Some athletes use equipment that is adapted to their needs including single ski, sit-ski or orthopedic aids.

World Para Alpine Skiing, formerly known as IPC Alpine Skiing, acts as the International Federation for the sport which is coordinated by the World Para Alpine Skiing Technical Committee.

Five events are on the Paralympic programme: downhill, super-G, super combined, giant slalom and slalom.

History

Following the end of the Second World War, there was a systematic development of ski sport for persons with impairment as injured ex-servicemen returned to the sport they loved. In 1948, the first courses were offered.

The first documented Championships for skiers with impairment were held in Badgastein, Austria, in 1948 with 17 athletes taking part. Since 1950, events have been held around the world. The introduction of sit-ski allowed people in wheelchairs (paraplegics and double above-the-knee amputees) to begin to ski and race.

The first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Ornskoldsvik in Sweden in 1976 and featured two alpine disciplines - slalom and giant slalom.

Downhill was added to the Paralympic programme in 1984 in Innsbruck, Austria, and super-G was added in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway. Sit-skiing became a medal event at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Games.

In 2016, IPC Alpine Skiing was renamed and rebranded to World Para Alpine Skiing.

Helpful link

World Para Alpine Skiing website.