Athletes in alpine skiing events must combine speed and agility while racing down the slopes at speeds of approximately 100km/h.
Two alpine skiing events (slalom and giant slalom) were introduced at the first Paralympic Winter Games in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, in 1976. Downhill was added in 1984, and super-G was added in 1994.
Until 1998, alpine events were only for standing classes – athletes with a vision impairment, limb loss, cerebral palsy or acquired brain injury etc. Mono-skiing, for seated skiers, became a medal event at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Winter Games.
In 2012, Para-snowboard was introduced to the Paralympic program as a discipline of alpine skiing. Snowboard cross competition at the Paralympic Winter Games is currently only open to athletes with a physical impairment in their lower body.
Paralympic competition accommodates male and female athletes with a physical impairment such as spinal cord or nerve damage, cerebral palsy, limb loss or deficiency and vision impairments. Athletes compete in three categories based on their functional ability and a times factoring system allows athletes with different impairments to compete against each other.
The rules of the International Ski Federation (FIS) are used with only a few modifications. Skiers with a vision impairment are guided through the course by sighted guides using voice signals to indicate the course to follow. Athletes with a physical impairment use equipment that is adapted to their needs including single skis, sit-skis or orthopaedic aids.
Download your free ‘What is alpine skiing?’ poster in a variety of sizes: