Twenty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine 8-year-old Oksana Masters — three feet tall, 35 pounds, no thumbs and misshapen legs — included in an NBC montage of the world’s best athletes, or having her face plastered on train station posters.
The chances of qualifying for the Olympics are near impossible as it is. So, can you imagine what it takes to ski down a mountain totally blind? Or to snowboard with a prosthetic leg? Think about what it takes to be a Curler in a wheelchair. Or for a paraplegic to play hockey in a hockey sled. That is what I mean about “mind blown”. I’d be lucky if I could stand upright on ice for 30 seconds...
Years after losing a leg, Pam Eberly got into snowboarding and still does it at 67; ‘I play so hard’
Badenhorst, forced to give up on her Rio Paralympic dream of athletics success due to issues with her leg amputation, is hoping to make a big impression in PyeongChang after a disastrous maiden Winter Paralympic Games four years ago.
The Winter Paralympics kick off March 9 in PyeongChang with 80 total competitions in para Alpine skiing, para cross-country skiing, para ice hockey, para snowboarding, para biathlon, and wheelchair curling. Because there are six sports, the Paralympics last 10 days (compared to the Winter Olympics, which features 15 sports spread over 17 days).
Having begun in 1960, the Paralympics are currently the third largest sporting event in the world. Although sporting events and clubs for people with impairments have existed for over 100 years, the want for a larger competition increased after World War II.
Skiing has always been a trademark sport of winter games, Paralympic or Olympic. In fact, the first winter competition held for people with disabilities, in 1948, was an internationally competitive three-track skiing contest. Today, the Paralympic Games ski-print the slopes with two main skiing events: Nordic skiing and Alpine skiing.
In popularity, Paralympic ice sled hockey—with its aggressiveness, competitiveness and parallels to Olympic ice hockey—draws the largest crowd of spectators. Wheelchair curling slides into the lineup this year, adding a new element to the Games.
When there’s a significant technological advance that might help Olympians reach new heights, like the infamous (and now banned) Speedo LZR swimsuits, we all sit up and take notice. But of all the Games, the most technologically advanced, the most fascinating for those of us curious about the melding of human and machine, is the Winter Paralympic Games.