Blind and partially sighted events at the Winter Paralympics

Blind and partially sighted events at the Winter Paralympics

After an incredible two weeks of Winter Olympic sport, the Winter Paralympics are finally here and are guaranteed to be action-packed! From the 4th-13th of March, Beijing will host approximately 600 of the world’s best Paralympic athletes for the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, making it the first city to hold both the summer and winter editions of the Games.

Athletes will compete in 78 different events across six sports in two disciplines: snow sports (alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon and snowboarding) and ice sports (para ice hockey and wheelchair curling). There will be 39 medal events for men, 35 for women, and 4 for mixed events.

ParalympicsGB has confirmed one of the biggest ever British teams to compete at a Paralympic Winter Games, since Lillehammer in 1994. Follow the link to find out more: https://gbsnowsport.com/20-strong-ski-and-snowboard-squad-selected-to-represent-paralympicsgb-at-beijing-games/

Here's a rundown of the sports with categories for athletes with visual impairments...

Alpine Skiing

Para Alpine Skiing is an original winter Paralympic sport, having featured at every edition since Ornskoldsvik 1976. Skiers who are blind or partially sighted have a guide to help them race down the mountain. Some guides use speakers strapped to their backs, while others give athletes directions using headsets. Alpine Skiing is Britain's most successful winter sport with 22 medals. Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans made history with the first-ever Winter Paralympic gold in Sochi in 2014, with Jade Etherington and Caroline Powell adding three silvers and a bronze. Four years later, Menna Fitzpatrick and Jen Kehoe went on to win a gold, two silvers and a bronze to become Britain's most successful Winter Paralympians, while Millie Knight and Brett Wild added two silvers and a bronze.

Alpine skiing includes five different events: downhill, super-G, super combined, giant slalom and slalom. Find out more about this sport at: https://www.paralympic.org/feature/sport-week-10-things-know-about-para-alpine-skiing

Biathlon

Biathlon was introduced at Albertville 1992 for athletes with visual impairments and is one of two Para Nordic sports. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and target shooting. Athletes ski three 2.5km legs (7.5km in total) and fire at five targets (located 10m from the shooter) between each leg using air guns that are mounted on stands. Athletes with vision impairments use rifles that make a sound to help them aim. Depending on the signal intensity, the noise indicates when the athlete is on target. Find out more about one of the most fascinating sports at the Winter Paralympics: https://www.paralympic.org/feature/sport-week-10-things-know-about-para-biathlon

Cross-Country Skiing

This sport is open to competitors with physical and visual impairments and first appeared as a Paralympic sport at Örnsköldsvik 1976. It is one of two Para Nordic sports (the other being Para biathlon). Athletes with a visual impairment compete in the event with a sighted guide. Para athletes compete in short distance, middle distance, and long-distance events (ranging from 1km to 20km) using classical or free techniques. There is also a team relay event. Find out more about this test of endurance and grit at: https://www.paralympic.org/feature/sport-week-10-things-know-about-para-cross-country-skiing

Where to watch the 2022 Winter Paralympics

Channel 4 has exclusive broadcast rights within the UK. They recently announced a 100% disabled presenting team for the Winter Paralympics, a global first for broadcasters at a world-class sporting event. The team will present the Games on Channel 4. Link: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/winter-paralympics-live

China is 9 hours ahead of the UK, so much of the live-action coverage will take place at night. See the schedule below (Beijing times):

  • 5 March: Para Alpine Skiing Downhill M/W (10:00-13:10), Para Biathlon Women's and Men's 6km (Sitting 10:00-11:15, Standing 12:00-13:15, Vision impaired 14:00-15:15)
  • 6 March: Para Alpine Skiing Super G M/W (10:00-14:30), Para Cross-Country Skiing Men's 18km (Sitting 10:00-11:35) and Women's 12km (Sitting 12:30-14:00)
  • 7 March: Para Cross-Country Skiing Men's 20km Classic (Standing/Vision Impaired 10:00-12:00) and Women's 15km Classic (Standing/Vision Impaired 12:30-15:00), Para Snowboard Cross M/W (Finals 11:30-14:30).
  • 8 March: Para Alpine Skiing Super Combined M/W (Super G 10:00-12:30, Slalom 13:30-14:30), Para Biathlon Women's and Men's 10km (Sitting 10:00-11:15, Standing 12:00-13:15, Vision Impaired 14:00-15:15)
  • 9 March: Para Cross-Country Skiing Sprint Free M/W (Semi-final and Final 12:00-15:00)
  • 10 March: Para Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom M (9:30-11:30, 13:00-15:00)
  • 11 March: Para Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom W (9:30-11:00, 13:00-15:00), Para Biathlon Women's and Men's 12.5km (Sitting 10:00-11:30, Standing 12:30-14:00, Vision Impaired 14:30-16:00)
  • 12 March: Wheelchair Curling Gold medal final (14:35-17:30), Para Alpine Skiing Slalom M (9:30-11:00, 12:30-14:00), Para Cross-Country Skiing Men's 10km Free Vision/Impaired/Standing (10:00-11:15) and Women's 10km Freer Vision/Impaired/Standing (12:00-13:30), Para Snowboard Banked Slalom M/W Finals (12:00-15:00)
  • 13 March: Para Ice Hockey Gold medal final (13:00-15:30), Para Alpine Skiing Slalom W (9:30-10:30, 12:30-14:00), Para Cross-Country Skiing Mixed Relay 4x2.5km (10:00-11:30), Open Relay 4x2.5km (12:00-13:30).

For more information and a day-by-day guide, visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/60515928

Be Inspired

The British Blind Sport team is excited for the Winter Paralympics to begin and wishes all of the athletes competing for gold the best of luck! Let's keep the momentum going and help you and your community to make a visible difference through sport. Most clubs and resorts offer adaptive snow sports programmes, with opportunities to progress to the international level. Visit our website to find out more about how you can get involved or use our Activity Finder to search for inclusive activities in your area: https://britishblindsport.org.uk/membership/bbs-sports/snow-sports/

Text - Para Alpine Skiing Team: Shona Brownlee, Meena Fitzpatrick, Kate Guest (Guide), Millie Knight, Dan Sheen, Gary Smith (Guide), Andrew Simpson (Guide), Neil Simpson, Alex Slegg, James Whitley, Brett Wild (Guide).