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Para-alpine skiing star Melissa Perrine understands why participation in winter sports isn’t higher in Australia – most obviously that most of us don’t live among snow – but she believes the nature of winter sports is perfectly suited to the Australian character.

“There are a lot of young kids with disabilities being bundled up and told they can’t do any of this really cool stuff, or the perception is that they’re limited to ‘safe’ sports,” Perrine said at the Beijing Winter Games earlier this month, where she was competing at her fourth Paralympics.

“But we’re all out here having the time of our lives doing something insanely cool. These are exciting sports. Aussies love adrenaline sports. The reality is that kids with disabilities can do them too.”

Perrine’s passion for increasing participation will be put into action at a Multi-Sport Come and Try Day in Melbourne on Sunday. The event is being hosted by Paralympics Australia in partnership with Sport Australia and Harvey Norman.

Fellow four-time Paralympic skier Mitchell Gourley will also attend, driven by a desire for others to experience the enjoyment and opportunities he gained during his career. Summer Paralympians attending include Tokyo 2020 swimming bronze medallist Col Pearse and three-time Paralympic goalball representative Jenny Blow.

The Australian representatives will meet fans and offer advice and encouragement to everyone having a go.

Paralympics Australia Participation and Pathways Coordinator (Vic/Tas) Scott Nicholas said this Come and Try Event was perhaps the biggest yet.

“We’ll have a winter sports flavour with Snow Australia and Disabled Wintersport Australia showcasing a range of winter sports, including Para-ice-hockey, fresh off the back of the Beijing Paralympics,” Nicholas said.

The other sports to be showcased are:

“There will also be representatives from Disability Sport & Recreation, Reclink Australia and Special Olympics Victoria, each sharing information about their support and programs,” Nicholas said.

“This is a really great chance for people of all ages and abilities who have an impairment to ask questions and try sports they may not have had access to in a safe and welcoming environment. The outcomes could be life-changing.”

Perrine, who has a vision impairment, wants more Australians involved in winter Para-sports.

“The truth is that we don’t have a big winter sport presence in Australia right now. We’re a desert nation and we just don’t have a lot of awareness about winter sports and access to participation,” she said.

“But we’re coming off a Winter Paralympic Games that was broadcast to more people in Australia than ever before. I’m really excited that so many people got to see it and also that there would be a lot of people out there who can get excited about participating.

“There are plenty of opportunities in sports that people wouldn’t consider. For example, there’s cross-country skiing for all those triathletes and wheelchair racers who love endurance events – I think you’re crazy… – but there’s opportunities here.

“The winter sports community in Australia is so amazing. I’d love to see more people join.”

VIC Multi-Sport Come And Try Day
Sunday, March 27
10am – 1pm
Melbourne Sports Centre – MSAC
Register for the Vic Multi-Sport Come And Try Day

Check the Paralympics Australia Events Calendar to register for a Come & Try Day in your state

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 24 March 2022