Winter sports for athletes with physical impairment gradually emerged after World War II, as large numbers of injured soldiers and civilians tried to return to their skiing activities.
Early pioneers, such as double-leg amputee Sepp Zwicknagl from Austria, experimented with skiing using prostheses. Other innovations were seen in ski equipment design, such as three-track skiing using crutches. This led to the first course in three-track skiing in February 1948 that included 17 participants from all over Austria.
By the 1970's, cross-country skiing competitions began, and in 1974, the first-ever world championships were held in Grand Bornand, France. They featured Alpine and Nordic competitions for athletes with amputations and visual impairments.
This eventually led to the first Paralympic Winter Games in 1976.
At the first Paralympic Winter Games, competitions were held in alpine and cross-country skiing for amputee and visually impaired athletes. A demonstration was held in ice sledge racing.
IPC Alpine Skiing Cross-country skiing
At the first Paralympic Winter Games, Germany and Switzerland tied for the most gold medals with 10 apiece. Finland finished with eight, Norway with seven and Sweden with six.
More info: http://www.paralympic.org/ornskoldsvik-1976