Winter Paralympics preview: Para alpine skiing day one

Six gold medals up for grabs as the men's and women's downhill kick off the Para alpine skiing action at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre 22 Feb 2022
A male sit skier in a Para alpine skiing competition
USA's Andrew Kurka will be defending his Paralympic title in the men's downhill sitting champion on 5 March at Beijing 2022
ⒸAlex Livesey/Getty Images
By Aurore Gander | For World Para Snow Sports

The men’s and women’s downhill events will kick off the Para alpine skiing action at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on Saturday (5 March).

The Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre will host 220 athletes in 30 medal events.

Here is all you need to know about day one!


In the women’s sitting event, the retirement of PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic champion Anna Schaffelhuberlet does not mean Germany will not be a strong contender for gold.

Anna-Lena Forster has had a fantastic 2022 after picking four gold medals in five races at the Lillehammer 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships in January. Her main rivals are likely to be Barbara van Bergen from the Netherlands and Katherine Combaluzier from Canada.

China’s Liu Sitong and Zhang Wenjing are the hosts medal hopefuls in the women’s sitting event.

USA’s 2018 Paralympics champion Andrew Kurka seems determined to conserve his title at Beijing. But, on his quest for back-to-back golds he will have to beat Jesper Pedersen.

The Norwegian could not have hoped for a better start of the year winning five medals (three gold and two silver) on home snow at Lillehammer 2021.

Dutch star Jeroen Kampschreur and PyeongChang 2018 medallist Corey Peters of New Zealand are other names to watch in a competition always full of surprises.


In the women’s standing event, French Winter Games legend Marie Bochet will be targeting a third back-to-back gold medal. To do it, she will have to face serious contestants in Beijing. 

The new generation rose to the challenge at Lillehammer 2021 earlier this year, with extraordinary performance by Sweden’s 21-year-old Ebba Aarsjoe (two medals, both gold) who will be making her Paralympic debut in Beijing. 

Hosts China will also be hoping for a medal from a teenage talent, Mengqiu Zhang. Meanwhile, Canada’s Mollie Jepsen will be aiming to change the colour of her medal after her two bronze medals at the 2018 Winter Games and Lillehammer 2021. 

Switzerland’s Theo Gmur and France’s Arthur Bochet will both experience their second Winter Games in Beijing. And both are serious pretenders for downhill gold. While Gmur will be defending his Paralympic title, Bauchet will be aiming for a first gold after four silver medals in 2018. 

Facing the young generation, experience can also be an advantage. Austrian Markus Salcher, the Lillehammer 2021 downhill world champion,  will be one of the top medal contenders in his fourth Winter Paralympics appearance. 


In her fourth Winter Games, Slovakian Paralympic star Henrieta Farkasova will be in search of her third back-to-back title. She showed her form taking the world title in Lillehammer in January.

She appears as favourite, but new contestants can pull a surprise, as Linda Le Bon from Belgium who won silver medal at the Lillehammer 2021 Worlds. She will make her Winter Paralympics debut at the age of 57.
Another serious contestant will be Great Britain’s Millie Knight, the PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist who is searching a first Paralympic gold in her third Winter Games. 

Slovakian experience can also make a difference in the men’s vision impaired event as Jakub Krako and Miroslav Haraus know what it takes to reach the podium going to their fifth  Winter Paralympics. 

Their main challenge should come from France’s Hyacinthe Deleplace, the new downhill world champion, and Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli.

The latter missed the downhill events in Lillehammer because of COVID-19 and will use the disappointment to rise above the other contestants in Beijing.

Live results from Beijing 2022 will be available on You can follow all the action, behind the scenes and news on World Para Snow Sports social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter