Snowboard made its Paralympic debut at Sochi 2014 with two medal events and has grown rapidly to expand to 10 events at PyeongChang 2018.
Athletes compete in two disciplines (snowboard-cross and banked slalom) across three categories – SB-LL1 and SB-LL2 for lower-limb impaired riders and SB-UL for upper-limb impaired athletes.
The sport is governed by World Para Snowboard and coordinated by its Sport Technical Committee.
Each athlete competes three runs down the course with their best run determining the final order based on ascending time. There is only one rider on the course at a time. The course may be a medium pitched slope. It may be preferably a naturally varying terrain, with plenty of bumps and dips, and preferably a U-shape/natural valley
During qualification, each athlete completes three runs down the course with their best run determining the final order based on ascending time. There is only one rider on the course at a time during qualification.
Finals consist of 16 men and eight women, with two competitors per heat or such other numbers as determined by the Jury. The ideal snowboard-cross may allow the construction of any features excluding: gap jumps, corner jumps, spines and double spines, cutting banks, giant slalom turns and negative banks.
The venue for Para alpine skiing and Para snowboard will be contested at the newly built Jeongseon Alpine Centre, located in the Mountain Cluster.
The Jeongseon Alpine Centre will hold 30 alpine skiing medals events (15 men’s and 15 women’s) in downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and combined; and 10 snowboard events (six men’s and four women’s) in snowboard-cross and banked slalom disciplines. For the Olympics, alpine skiing technical events were held at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre, and snowboard events at the Pheonix Snow Park, both also in the Mountain Cluster.
Venue manager Jeong Du-hwan, said on PyeongChang2018.com that the venue is particularly an ideal location for alpine speed events (super-G and downhill).
He said the slopes had to be situated within 30 to 40 minutes from the Olympic Village and the other venues. The centre’s management facilities include one gondola, two lifts, a snowmaking machine, hydrant (water supply facilities) and detention pond, management office, and snowcat (snowmobile) storage.
“All alpine centres use artificial snow to make the slopes firm, like the surface of an ice rink,” Du-hwan said. “The snow has to be over 120 cm thick, which is three to four times thicker than the snow on a regular ski slope. The top layer of the snow, which is about 20 to 40 cm thick, is artificially frozen by pouring water on it. It’s so firm and slippery that is even hard to stay standing upright on it. That is the best snow surface for alpine skiing competitions.”
Preparing the course for technical events (slalom and giant slalom) is much different.
“On the courses for the alpine speed events, we spray water on the surface of the snow in order to pack it down. For technical events, however, we inject water directly into the snow to solidify it. This process is very important,” Du-hwan said.
A medical helicopter must always be ready to transport injured athletes and safety nets installed along the venue course.
The safety nets are classified into three types: A, B, and C nets. A-nets are the tallest (3 m) and strongest nets, followed by B-nets and C-nets. The locations of the nets are determined in consideration of safety, and the nets are sometimes overlapped, where necessary.
Jeongseon Alpine Centre (newly built facilities)
Size: Four slopes (two for competitions, two for practice events)
Capacity: 6,500 people (3,600 seats, 2,900 standing)
Para snowboard is composed of three sport classes, two for athletes with leg impairments and one for athletes with arm impairments.
SB-LL1: Athletes classified in the SB-LL1 sport class will have an significant impairment in one leg, for example an above knee amputation, or a significant combined impairment in two legs, for example significant muscle weakness or spasticity in both legs. This will affect their ability to balance, control the board and absorb the terrain. Athletes with amputations will use prosthesis during the races.
SB-LL2: Snowboarders in the SB-LL2 sport class will have an impairment in one or two legs with less activity limitation. A typical example is a below knee amputation or mild spasticity.
SB-UL: Snowboarders in the SB-UL class have impairments of the upper limbs, which impacts on the ability to balance when racing down the slopes.
Athletes with these impairments are eligible to compete in Para snowboard:
• Impaired muscle power
• Impaired passive range of movement
• Limb deficiency
• Leg-length difference