Para Snowboard: Sports of the Paralympic Winter Games

Para Snowboard: Sports of the Paralympic Winter Games


Para snowboard is a snow sport where athletes with physical impairments ride snowboards in a race against the clock. Para snowboard is the newest Paralympic event, appearing for the first time as part of the 2014 Games in Sochi In 2014, female athletes from the Netherlands, France and the United States took home medals. Men’s Para snowboard, however, was dominated by the United States, taking home the gold, silver and bronze medals! There are currently two different types of Para snowboard events, each requiring their own man-made snow course. In snowboard cross athletes compete on a track measuring 500-1,000 m long. The course is marked with red and blue flags with triangular flags marking the entrances to obstacles. Like motor-cross tracks, snowboard cross courses feature a variety of obstacles including Wu-Tangs, berms and rollers. Paralympians competing in banked slalom events manoeuvre across a course featuring a series of bumps and dips. Snowboarders use boards that are stiff and narrow compared to most freestyle boards. Bindings are fixed diagonally on the long axis of the board and are often modified to accommodate each individual’s unique impairment. Para snowboard events are categorised by gender as well as impairment type. In both men’s and women’s events there are two classes for athletes with lower-limb impairments: SB-LL1 and SB-LL2. Athletes in the SB-LL1 class have a significant impairment in one leg, for example an above knee amputation, or a significant combined impairment in two legs. Athletes in the SB-LL2 sport class will have an impairment in one or two legs with less activity limitation. Snowboarders with upper-limb impairments that affect their balance will compete in the SB-UL classification. Snowboard cross features a qualifcation round, before riders race head-to-head to determine the medals. Banked slalom competitors make three attempts at navigating the course, with the fastest run determining their final rankings. The snowboard cross winner is determined by who reaches the finish line first. Banked Slalom is delivered in three timed runs and the best of three is counted for the final standing. In Para snowboard, athletes with either upper-limb or lower-limb impairments race down challenging courses hoping to finish with the fastest time. These snowboarders inspire the world every day with their strength and perseverance on and off the slopes.

Antonio Breitenberg

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