What to watch: February 2016

Many sports in the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme are back in action for the first time this year. 02 Feb 2016
Two snowboarders race on a slope

US para-snowboarder Mike Shea won the men's SB-LL2 head-to-head event at the World Cup event in Aspen, USA.

ⒸJoe Kusumoto

IPC Athletics Grand Prix

Some of the sports’ biggest stars return to the tracks for the first time since the Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in November. Among those is Australia’s Angie Ballard, who will get to show in front of her home crowd why she is a favourite for gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games when she takes her marks at the ACT Athletics State Championships in Canberra.

The competition, held 5-7 February, is the first of the 10-part Grand Prix series.

World Wheelchair Curling Championships

Russia will look to defend their title in Lucerne, Switzerland, after defeating China in the 2015 edition. But defending Paralympic champion Canada are expected to show why they are ranked No. 1 in the world. More information on the World Wheelchair Curling Championships can be found on the event website.

IPC Alpine Skiing World and Europa Cups

The World Cup series will wrap up in the USA with finals in the technical events (24-26 February in Aspen, Colorado) and speed events (28 February - 4 March in Beaver Creek, Colorado). France’s Marie Bochet owns the top of the rankings in all four categories in the women’s standing. Russia’s Aleksei Bugaev is the leader in the men’s standing in all but one category – the downhill, which is occupied by Austria’s Markus Salcher.

A Europa Cup will also take place in Espot, Spain, from 8-14 February featuring super combined, giant slalom and slalom.

IPC Snowboard World and NorAm Cups

The first World Cup of the year –the second of the 2015-16 season – gets underway with snowboard cross in Aspen, Colorado, USA, from 5-6 February. Competition then moves to Big White, Canada, with events in snowboard cross and banked slalom held 10-13 February.

Aspen and Big White will also host a pair of NorAm Cups to take place prior to the World Cups.

Both competitions are expected to feature top athletes, such as Paralympians the USA’s Amy Purdy and New Zealand’s Carl Murphy, who both had quiet 2014-15 seasons.

IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup

The World Cup series picks back up in Finsterau, Germany, as both biathlon and cross-country events take place from 21-28 February. Without a major Championships or Paralympic Games this year, athletes will get the opportunity to keep themselves loose ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup

The sport returns to the site where its World Championships were held last year in Eger, Hungary. The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sport Federation’s (IWAS) first World Cup of the year will be held 10-14 February. Expect to see Italy’s reigning world champion Beatrice Vio, who is coming off 2015 unbeaten.

IPC Powerlifting World Cups

This month will be the last chance for most powerlifters to better their rankings ahead of Rio 2016. Two of the last three World Cups this year will be held 15-19 February in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and then 25-28 February in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Aquece Rio International Wheelchair Rugby Championship (Rio 2016 Test Event)

Teams will get a chance to familiarise themselves with the venue of Rio 2016 , as the Championship will also act as a Test Event, held 26-28 February. Four countries are set to battle at the Carioca Arena 1. More information can be found on the event website.

Visually Impaired Archery Tournament

Saint Herblain will host the first international competition for visually impaired athletes since the World Championships last year in Donaueschingen, Germany. The French city’s inaugural International Visually Impaired Archery Tournament is scheduled 27-28 February and is an opportunity for new international visually impaired athletes to become officially classified and for archers in the discipline to compete at the highest level in preparation for the upcoming European Para Archery Championships (3-10 April in Saint Jean de Monts, France). Find more information on World Archery’s website.

IBSA Goalball Africa Regional Championships

The final regional Championships before Rio 2016 will take place 25 February – 4 March in Algiers, Algeria. More information will be available on the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) website.

International Tournament – football 7-a-side

Football 7-a-side returns to Burton-upon-Trent, Great Britain – the site of the 2015 World Championships – for an international tournament held 29 February - 5 March. More information, including team entries, will be available on the International Federation of CP Football’s (IFCPF) website.

Oceania Para-Canoe Championships

Held 12-14 February in Adelaide, Australia, the Championships are expected to field Ones to Watch canoeists Curtis McGrath and Amanda Reynolds.

Malmo Open – The European Para-sport Games

The 40th edition of the European Para-sport Games will be held 13-14 February in Malmo, Sweden, featuring sports such as goalball, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, among others. The competition will include a mix of experienced to developing athletes.

Lignano Master Open

Organised by the Italian Table Tennis Association, athletes from all classes (1-11) will commence in the Italian city from 14-21 February to get some competition in ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.