Paralympic Games History - Winter

2014 Sochi, Russia

7-16 March, 2014:

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games broke records on and off the slopes and ice, with incredible athletic performances, media coverage and tickets sold.

Over nine days, 547 athletes from 45 countries competed in five sports, with host nation Russia topping the medal tally with 30 gold medals – more than the total medals of any other competing country. Germany finished second on the medal tally with nine gold medals, followed by Canada (seven), Ukraine (five) and France (five).

Over 2,400 media representatives from around the world were in Sochi to cover the Games, with the Winter Paralympics receiving record-breaking international coverage from broadcasters in Russia, the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Japan. The Games also sold more than 300,000 competition tickets – a record for a winter Paralympic Games.

Australia sent a team of nine athletes and two sighted guides to Sochi, including three Para-snowboarders who made their debut at the Paralympic Games. The team returned home with two bronze medals, won by Toby Kane (men’s standing super-combined) and Jessica Gallagher (women’s vision-impaired giant slalom).

Australia’s Toby Kane was also awarded the International Paralympic Committee’s Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award for exemplifying the Paralympic spirit, and the youngest athlete at the Games, 14-year-old snowboarder Ben Tudhope carried Australia’s flag at the Closing Ceremony.

Download 2014 Sochi Media Guide

2010 Vancouver, Canada

12-21 March 2010:

At the Closing Ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, IPC President Sir Philip Craven declared it the "best-ever Paralympic Winter Games". A total of 502 athletes, including 121 women (24% of the total number), participated and competed in five sports and 64 medal events. With Argentina, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania and Serbia having their first appearance at a Paralympic Winter Games, the number of participating countries increased to 44 compared to 39 in Torino four years earlier.

The medal tally was led by the Russian team with 38 medals, followed by Germany with 24 medals. Host nation Canada and Ukraine shared third spot, both with a total of 19 medals.
With ticket sales reaching 230,000 the Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games set a new record compared to Torino, where 162,974 tickets were sold. Yet another record was set in media coverage with nearly 1,200 media representatives covering the Games.
Australia sent its largest ever team to a Paralympic Winter Games – 11 athletes, 3 sighted guides and 17 staff members. The 2010 Australian Paralympic Team returned home with 4 medals (1 silver and 3 bronze) – doubling its medal tally from Torino in 2006.

Medals were won by Marty Mayberry (silver – men’s standing Downhill), Cameron Rahles-Rahbula (bronze – men’s standing Slalom; bronze – men’s standing Super-Combined) and Jessica Gallagher (bronze – women’s vision-impaired Slalom). Winning her bronze medal on her 24th birthday, Jessica became the first Australian woman to win a Paralympic Winter medal.

Download 2010 Vancouver Media Guide

2006 Torino, Italy

10-19 March 2006:

From 11 to 19 March, a total of 474 athletes, including 99 women (21% of the total number) competed in five sports in 58 medal events. Alpine Skiing was held on the slopes of Sestriere Borgata, Ice Sledge Hockey in the central Torino Esposizioni, the Nordic Skiing events were held in Pragelato.

Wheelchair Curling made its Paralympic debut in front of packed crowds in Pinerolo. Mexico and Mongolia were welcomed to their first Winter Paralympics, bringing the total number of participating countries to 39. Athletes and officials lived in two Paralympic Villages, in Sestriere and Torino.

Australia won two medals in Torino. Toby Kane, a leg amputee and the youngest member of the Australian team, won bronze in the men’s standing Super-G, while Michael Milton won silver in the men’s standing Downhill at his last Winter Paralympics. Milton retired as Australia’s most successful Winter Paralympian, having won six career Paralympic gold, three silver and two bronze.

Download 2006 Torino Media Guide

2002 Salt Lake City, USA

7-16 March 2002:

The 2002 Salt Lake City Games was well organised on the back of the Olympic Games. Venues, transport and various other systems were replicated to great effect. During the Games, 416 athletes from 36 nations took part. It was the first Paralympic Games for Andorra, Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Croatia, Greece and Hungary.

There were three sports contested and four disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey and Nordic Skiing (Cross-Country and Biathlon). The German team led the medal tally with a total of 17 gold, 1 silver and 15 bronze medals, followed by the team from the United States, which won 10 gold, 22 silver and 11 bronze medals.

Australia’s Michael Milton dominated these Games, winning gold in all four Alpine events. Overall, Australia placed fourth, with the team bringing home 6 gold medals and 1 silver. This result put Australia ahead of the skiing powerhouses of France, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.

Download 2002 Salt Lake City Media Guide

1998 Nagano, Japan

5-14 March 1998:

The 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan was the first Paralympic Winter Games to be held outside Europe. With Paralympic sports becoming increasingly competitive and popular at the international level, 571 competitors from 32 countries flew into Japan for these Games. A total of 34 events took place across the four sports: Alpine Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey, Ice Sledge Racing and Nordic Skiing.

Australia secured two medals, both won by Alpine skier James Paterson. After winning bronze in the Slalom, Paterson took gold in the Downhill to single-handedly give Australia 16th place on the medal tally.


1994 Lillehammer, Norway

10-19 March 1994:

At the 1994 Lillehammer Paralympic Games a total of 471 athletes  (381 men and 90 women) representing 31 countries took part. Athletes competed in five sports: Alpine Skiing, Ice Sledge Racing, Nordic Skiing (Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing) and the sport of Ice Sledge Hockey which was introduced to the Paralympic Games for the first time.

These Winter Games saw Australia’s six-man alpine ski team win three gold, two silver and four bronze medals. The unprecedented nine winter medals put Australia in fifth place among the alpine ski nations of the world.


1992 Tignes-Albertville, France

25 March – 1 April:

Due to lack of entries and suitable venues to host the Ice sports, only Alpine and Nordic Skiing (Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing) competitions were held. There were a total of 79 medal events held over eight days of competition, from 25 March to 1 April.

With 365 athletes from 24 countries at these Winter Games, our team put in superb performances to win Australia’s first Winter Games medals – in Olympic and Paralympic history. Michael Milton won gold in the slalom and silver in the super G, while Michael Norton took bronze in the slalom and David Munk took bronze in the Super G.


1988 Innsbruck, Austria

17-24 January 1988:

Three cities - Mutters, Netters and Innsbruck - combined to host the Winter Games in 1988. Of the 397 athletes from 22 countries that took part, Australia’s team had grown to five members, some of whom would go on to future Games and win Australia’s first Winter Games medals in Paralympic and Olympic competition.The USSR competed for the first time and sit-skiing was introduced as another event in both the Alpine and Nordic competitions. Australian Team members were Kyrra Grunnsund, Evan Hodge, Michael Milton, Steven Kirwood and David Munk.

Download the 1988 Paralympics Appeal Report

1984 Innsbruck, Austria

14-20 January 1984:

The 1984 Paralympic Winter Games was held from 14 to 20 January in Innsbruck, Austria. For the first time, an exhibition event was held at the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo and 30 male three-track skiers took part in the Giant Slalom event. These Winter Games saw 350-plus athletes from 22 countries compete in speed skating, cross-country and alpine events – sit skiing was a demonstration sport.

Australia did not win a medal, but was strongly represented by Rodney Mills in cross-country and Kyrra Grunnsund and Andrew Temple in the alpine events of slalom, giant slalom and downhill.


1980 Geilo, Norway

1-7 February 1980:

The success of the first Games led to the second Paralympic Winter Games, held from 1 to 7 February 1980 in Geilo, Norway. Here, a demonstration event was held in Sledge Downhill Racing. All classes of athletes with locomotor disabilities were able to participate.

Ten of the 18 countries attending the Games returned with medals. However, the competition was dominated by Norway and Finland, who combined, won 88 of the 168 medals awarded. Australia competed, but did not medal at these Games.


1976 Örnsköldsvik, Sweden

21-28 February 1976:

Winter disability sports started gradually after World War II, as large numbers of injured soldiers and civilians tried to return to their skiing activities. Early innovations in ski equipment design resulted in three-track skiing for leg amputees using crutches that had small skis mounted, making three tracks in the snow. This led to the first course in three-track skiing in February 1948, with 17 participants from all over Austria. This is the first known documented Championships for skiers with a disability. The event proved popular, and the first Austrian Championships were held the following year. 

It was in the 1970s that cross-disability skiing competitions started. In 1974, the first world championships were held in Grand Bornand in France, which featured Alpine (downhill) and Nordic Skiing (cross-country) for athletes with amputations and visual impairments.

The first Paralympic Winter Games was held from 21 to 28 February in 1976 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. There were competitions in Alpine and Nordic Skiing for amputee and visually impaired athletes, and a demonstration event in Ice Sledge Racing. Approximately 250 athletes from 16 countries took part.

Nine of the 16 countries who took part won medals with the Federal Republic of Germany finishing on top of the medal tally. Switzerland almost stole top spot with a total of 10 gold from their 12 medals in total. Australia was unofficially represented at these Games by Ron Finneran, who competed but is not officially recognised as he does not fall into the amputee or visual impairment categories.