General Information

The Slalom and Giant Slalom were the only two alpine events at the first Paralympic Winter Games, held in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, in 1976. Today athletes with a physical disability compete in all 4 alpine events: Downhill, Super-G, Slalom and Giant Slalom. Paralympic alpine athletes compete & use the same venue as the Olympic women's team. Alpine Skiing is currently practiced by athletes in 35 countries and is steadily growing.

Canada is currently ranked 9th in the world, but are determined to rally back into the top of the field following an injury plagued 2004-05 season.

Competitiors

Athletes in Alpine Skiing events must combine speed and agility while racing down slopes at speeds of up to or more than 100km/h. Paralympic competition includes male and female athletes with a physical disability such as spinal injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, and visual impairments. Athletes compete based on their functional ability, allowing athletes with different disabilities to compete against each other. Alpine skiing includes 3 main classification categories: blind and partially sighted skiers; standing skiers; and sitting skiers.

Rules

Alpine Skiing is governed by the IPC through the International Paralympic Alpine Skiing Committee (IPASC) and the rules of the Federation International de Ski (FIS) are used for Paralympic Winter Games, with only a few exceptions.

Athletes in certain Paralympic classifications (e.g. single-leg amputees who ski without a prosthesis & sit-ski users) use special poles called outriggers. Outriggers have short ski blades on the end and help the skier with balance.

Some athletes with a physical disability compete from a sitting position using a sit-ski, also called a mono-ski. As the name suggests, mono-skis have a specially fitted chair over a single ski. The chair includes seat belts and other strapping, as well as a suspension device to minimize wear and tear on the skier's body.

In all Visually Impaired classes (B1 – B3) a guide is obligatory and the competitor and his guide are a team. Blind skiers are directed through the course by sighted guides using only voice signals or radio communication to indicate the course to follow.

All competitors in the totally blind class (B1) must wear approved backed-out goggles during the competition.

No physical contact between the guide and competitor is allowed during the race. The distance between guide and athlete in technical events (Slalom and Giant Slalom) must not exceed two direction changes and in speed events (Downhill and Super G) must not exceed one direction change.

In partially sighted classes (B2: visual acuity of 20/60 & B3: visual acuity above 20/60 to 6/60), the guide must ski in front of the athlete. For totally blind classes (B1), the guide can ski either in front or behind the athlete.

Disciplines

Downhill: Skiers are timed as they race down a long, steep course that may include turns and jumps. They must pass through a relatively few number of gates that are used as checkpoints. The penalty for missing a gate is disqualification. Each athlete is allowed only one run down the course and athletes' times determine the order of finish.

Slalom: The Slalom is a technical event. The course is shorter than other Alpine Skiing events with a high number of gates (55-75 gates on a men's course and 40-60 on a women's course) that the athletes must negotiate. The penalty for missing a gate is disqualification. Each athlete completes two runs on the same day on different courses. Times from the two courses are added to determine the order of finish.

Giant Slalom: The Giant Slalom is also a technical event. In comparison to the Slalom, the course is longer, there are fewer turns, and the turns are wider and smoother. The number of gates is determined by the vertical drop and the penalty for missing a gate is disqualification. Each athlete completes two runs on the same day on different courses. Times from the two courses are added to determine order of finish.

Super Giant Slalom (Super-G): The Super-G is a speed event. The course is shorter than Downhill but longer than Giant Slalom and Slalom. The number of gates is determined by the vertical drop, with a minimum of 35 direction changes for men and 30 for women. Gates are set at least 25m apart and the penalty for missing a gate is disqualification. Each athlete is allowed only one run down the course. Athletes' times determine the order of finish.

Classifications

There are eleven classifications for athletes with a physical disability (eight for standing and four for seated) and three for athletes with visual impairments.

Visually impaired

B1 - Totally blind (no sight)

B2 - Partially sighted (visual acuity of 20/60 – limited sight)

B3 - Partially sighted (visual acuity above 20/60 to 6/60 –more sight than B2)

Standing

LW1 - double above-knee amputees

LW2 - outrigger skiers

LW3 - double below-knee amputees

LW4 - skiers with prosthesis

LW5/7 - skiers without poles

LW6/8 - skiers with one pole

LW9/1 - disability of arm and leg (after amputation)

LW9/2 - disability of arm and leg (cerebral palsy)

Sitting

LW10 - mono skiers (high degree of paraplegia, no muscles in lower body)

LW11 - mono skiers (lower degree of paraplegia, with muscles in lower body)

LW12/1 - mono skiers (lower degree of paraplegia, lower incomplete paralysis)

LW12/2 mono - skiers (double above-knee amputees)

(from www.canski.org )