10 things to know about para-alpine skiing

Para-alpine skiing is an original Paralympic winter sport that has featured in every edition since Ornskoldsvik 1976. Learn more about this sport which sees some of the most daring athletes with physical and visual impairments race to be the fastest in cross the finish line.

1. Some para-alpine skiers are completely blind and race down the mountain with only the sound of their guide to follow. Some guides use loudspeakers strapped to their backs while others instruct athletes using helmets.

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2. Para-alpine skiers combine speed and agility as they race down the slopes at speeds of around 100 km/h.

3. Skiers with a physical disability compete in a standing or sitting category. Those in the sit-down category use sit-up skis and “stabilizers” – poles with a foot – while some stand-up skiers also use stabilizers.

a seated female skier rounds a gate

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4. With 16 titles each, the Germans Gerd Schoenfelder and Reinhild Moeller respectively lead the general classification of men’s and women’s medals in para-alpine skiing.

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5. Slalom and giant slalom were the first disciplines to be included in the Paralympic Winter Games in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden in 1976. Downhill joined at Innsbruck 1984 and super-G at Lillehammer 1994. The super-combined is also a medal event at today’s Paralympic Games.

Athlete in an Alpine Skiing sporting event, Lillehammer 1994

Ⓒ Lillehammer 1994

6. The giant slalom for para-alpine skiers was introduced as a demonstration event at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.

seven. The first documented championships for disabled skiers were held in Badgastein, Austria in 1948, with 17 athletes participating. Since 1950, events have taken place all over the world.

8. Twenty-one countries have won gold in para-alpine skiing at the Paralympic Winter Games.

9. The United States is the most decorated country in para-alpine skiing, with 96 gold, 91 silver and 70 bronze. The other top five countries are, in order, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and France.

a para-alpine skier descends a slope

ⒸGetty Pictures

ten. Competition at the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, China will see 220 male and female athletes go for gold.

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