The biggest World Championships in the history of the four World Para Snow Sports will kick off in six months and will be held in Lillehammer, Norway from February 7 to 20.
The 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships will mark the first time that the Para alpine skiing, Para biathlon, Para cross-country and Para snowboard World Championships are held in one host country, and with one year to go until the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, the stakes have never been higher.
Here is all you need to know about Lillehammer 2021.
1. Historic milestone
Lillehammer 2021 will be the first time in history that a joint World Para Snow Sports Championships is held. Previously held in the same year, but at different venues and on different schedules, this time the athletes from all four sports will come together to fight for their country’s place in the medals tally.
2. Super host
Lillehammer is no stranger to hosting major sporting events. The town’s dazzling hosting record includes the 1994 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games as well as several X-Games, World Para Snow Sports and FIS World Cups.
The Para cross-country and biathlon races will be held in Lillehammer, while the Para alpine and Para snowboard events will take place 15 km away, at the neighbouring mountain resort Hafjell.
3. Events extravaganza
A total of 82 medals to be handed out during the two-week competition. There will be 31 medal events in Para alpine skiing, 18 events in Para biathlon, 20 events in Para cross-country, and 13 events in Para snowboard.
Three events will be making their World Championships debut in Norway. These are the team events in Para alpine and Para snowboard, and the dual banked slalom format, which debuted on the World Para Snowboard World Cup last season.
4. Star-studded field
The biggest stars from the four sports, including Paralympic and world champions, will be racing for gold at Lillehammer 2021. Around 750 participants are expected in total, including 200 Para Nordic skiers, 120 Para alpine skiers and 60 Para snowboarders.
5. Local heroes
Norwegian athletes are among the top medal prospects across the sports. In Para alpine men’s sitting class, Paralympic champion Jesper Pedersen, who has won the overall Crystal Globe three years in a row, will be trying to wrestle the world titles from reigning five-time world champion Jeroen Kampschreur of the Netherlands.
Pedersen’s compatriots Vilde Nilsen and Birgit Skarstein are among the top picks in the Para Nordic women’s standing and sitting categories, respectively.
Four-time cross-country world champion Nilsen picked up her second consecutive World Cup title in the discipline in March and is in top shape ahead of the home competition. Meanwhile, dual athlete Birgit Skarstein will be looking to use her Tokyo 2020 rowing training to upgrade her already medal-laden performances on the snow to gold.
In Para snowboard, the spotlight will be on Kristian Moen, who shocked sports veterans when he took silver at the 2015 World Para Snowboard Championships at age 15. Six years later, Norway’s only World Cup Para snowboarder is a constant threat in the men’s SB-LL1 class and a podium regular on the circuit.
6. Top courses
Athletes will not be the only world-class attractions at Lillehammer 2021. The courses, built by the best specialists from around the world, are certain to dazzle as well.
For example, the two snowboard courses will be built by the same team that worked on the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. The courses they built for the World Cup finals in Hafjell in March received rave reviews from athletes, and their next year’s designs are expected to be even more breathtaking.
7. Lights, camera, action!
All the races of the 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships will be shown live on various platforms, including TV and digital networks, to give sports fans from all over the world the full experience of this first-time spectacle.
Norwegian broadcasters NRK / TV2 will produce and broadcast the World Championships daily from the competition arenas at Birkebeineren Ski Stadium and Hafjell Alpine Centre in a historic TV investment for Para snow sports.
Lillehammer 2021 is organised by the Norwegian Ski Association in close co-operation with the Norwegian Biathlon Association, the Norwegian Board Association and the VI Foundation.