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The Paralympic Sport of Alpine Skiing (including Snowboard)

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Watch the featured video for a brief overview of the events and their classifications.

The History

Slalom and Giant Slalom were introduced to the Paralympics at Örnsköldsvik in 1976. Downhill was added in 1984 at Innsbruck. Super-G was added in 1994 at Lillehammer. Sit-skiing became a medal event at Nagano in 1998. And Snowboard made its debut at Sochi in 2014.

Competition is open to male and female athletes with a physical impairment or a visual impairment/blindness. There are separate events for the men and the women, and there are three different classes—visually-impaired, standing, and sitting. In addition, athletes compete in categories based on functional ability, and a real-time calculating scoring system (that used factored timing) allows athletes with different types of impairments to fairly compete against one another within their class.

The Competition

Downhill: Each athlete completes one run down a course with their finish time determining the final placement. It is a speed event, with a course that is generally long and steep with relatively few gates. If the athlete misses a gate, they are disqualified.

Slalom: In one day, each athlete completes two runs on on different courses. The times from the two runs are added together to determine placement. It is a technical event, with a short course but a high number of gates. If the athlete misses a gate, they are disqualified.

Giant Slalom: In one day, each athlete completes two runs on different courses. Times from the two runs are added together to determine placement. It is a technical event, with a longer course and fewer gates than the slalom. The number of gates is determined by the vertical drop of the course. If the athlete misses a gate, they are disqualified.

Super-G: Each athlete completes one run down the course with their finish time determining the final placement. It is a speed event, and the course is usually shorter than Downhill but longer than the Giant Slalom. There are no practice runs in the Super-G.

Super Combined: In one day, each athlete completes one run of either a Downhill or Super-G and one run of Slalom. Times from the two runs are added together to determine the final placement.

Snowboard Cross: Each athlete completes three individual runs, with their best two runs added together determining their final placement. The course contains various terrain features like banked turns, jumps, and rollers, etc.

The Equipment

Skiers with visual impairment or blindness are guided down the course by sighted guides who provide signals to describe the course. Physically-impaired athletes use equipment adapted to their specific needs, including a mono ski, sit-ski, or other orthopedic aids.

For more information, visit IPC Alpine Skiing on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) website. The Paralympic sport of alpine skiing is governed by IPC Alpine Skiing with coordination by the IPC Alpine Skiing Technical Committee.

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