Para-alpine skiing demands extreme agility, strength and speed. Racers can reach speeds up to 100 km/hr.
There are five Para-alpine events that an individual can take part in:
- Downhill: skiers are timed as they race down a long, steep course and they have to pass through a number of gates used as checkpoints. If a skier misses a gate, they are disqualified.
- Super Giant Slalom (Super-G): Super-G is raced on a course that is shorter than Downhill. The number of gates the skier must pass through is determined by the vertical drop, with a minimum of 30 directional changes for women and 35 for men. Gates are placed 25 meters apart and if a gate is missed, the skier is disqualified.
- Super Combined (SC): This event combines two disciplines, such as one Super-G and one Slalom run, or one Downhill and one Slalom run. Giant Slalom (GS): Giant Slalom is raced on a shorter course than Super G but includes more gates. The vertical drop determines the number of gates and if a gate is missed, it results in a disqualification.
- Slalom: Slalom is a highly technical alpine event. The course is shorter than other Alpine events and includes significantly more gates, men – ranging from 55-75, women – ranging from 40-60. Disqualification happens as a result of missing a gate. Para-alpine skiing requires adaptive equipment to allow the participants to enjoy the sport of alpine skiing.
- Skis: The skis used in Alpine Skiing events are long and narrow (minimum of 60mm). Men's skis are a minimum length of 165cm and women's skis are a minimum length of 155cm. The maximum height of the binding plate is 55mm in all events.
- Sit-skis: Some athletes with a physical disability compete from a sitting position using a sit-ski, also called a mono-ski. As the name suggests, sit-skis have a specially fitted chair over a single ski. The chair includes seat belts and other strapping, as well as a suspension device to minimize wear and tear on the skier's body.
- Poles or outriggers: Skiers in Alpine Skiing events use poles for propulsion and balance. The poles for Downhill and Super-G events are curved to fit around the body. Slalom poles are straight and usually have plastic guards to protect the hands from injury. Athletes in certain Paralympic classifications (e.g. sit-ski users) use special poles called outriggers. Outriggers have short ski blades on the end and help the skier with balance.
See the International Paralympic committee website for rules and regulations.
Paralympic Alpine Skiing competitions include male and female athletes with a physical disability such as a spinal injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, and visual impairments. Athletes compete based on their functional ability and their scores are then equalized, enabling athletes with different disabilities to compete against each other. Paralympic skiers compete on the same courses as the Olympic women’s teams.
- LW1 - double above-knee amputees
- LW2 - outrigger skiers
- LW3 - double below-knee amputees
- LW4 - skiers with prosthesis
- LW5/7- skiers without poles
- LW6/8 - skiers with one pole
- LW9/1 - disability of arm and leg (after amputation)
- LW9/2 - disability of arm and leg (cerebral palsy)
- LW10 - high degree of paraplegia, no muscles in lower body
- LW11 - lower degree of paraplegia, with muscles in lower body
- LW12/1 - lower degree of paraplegia, lower incomplete paralysis
- LW12/2 - double above-knee amputees
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