As the Olympics close, gear up for the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics
Sochi – Feb 23, 2014
The party is not over yet. The Winter Paralympics begin on 7 March so check out this quick guide to what you can expect.
The Winter Olympics may be coming to a close in Sochi, Russia, but fear not sports fans for the Winter Paralympics start in just 12 days.
Around 570 athletes from 45 countries are expected to take part in the Games between 7-16 March, and below is a quick guide to all the sports that will take place in Sochi.
A total of 30 medals will be up for grabs at Rosa Khutor as 200 athletes compete in the alpine disciplines of downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super combined and super-G.
Athletes are grouped according to their functional ability, with factored timing allowing those with different impairments to compete against each other.
For anyone who has never seen para-alpine skiing before, prepare to be amazed!
Skiers with a visual impairment charge down hills at speeds of up to 100km/h with the help of a guide, whilst sit-skiers and standing skiers can reach even faster speeds.
Check-out these amazingly informative guides to learn more about the various classes:
• A guide to skiing with a visual impairment
• A guide to sit-skiing
• A guide to standing skiing for athletes with an arm or leg impairment
Friday, 14 March will mark para-snowboard’s debut at the Paralympic Winter Games as 50 athletes compete in the men’s and women’s snowboard cross.
Only athletes with leg impairments, such as amputations above the ankle, stiffness of the ankle or knee joint or muscle weakness, can compete in Sochi in the one sport class offered.
Each athlete completes three runs down the course, with the two best times combining to determine their final result. The event takes place on a man-made course constructed from a variety of terrain features like bank turns, various types of jumps and rollers etc.
The sport features some of the most outgoing and adventurous athletes, including the USA’s Evan Strong and the Netherlands’ Bibian Mentel-Spee, who are expected to be the ones to beat.
Around 170 athletes will contest 18 medal events covering sprint, middle and long-distance.
Hosts Russia, who led the way are Vancouver four years ago, are expected to be even stronger on home snow at the Laura Biathlon and Cross Country Skiing Centre.
Two athletes to look out for are Nikolay Polukhin, whose six Paralympic medals at Vancouver 2010 were the most of any athlete, as well as 19-year-old men’s sitting world champion Grigory Murygin. Polukhin, in particular, has dominated the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup circuit the last four years and is at the prime of his career.
Russia will be the country to beat when cross-country skiing gets underway at the Laura Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing Centre. The Sochi 2014 hosts won 56 medals including 22 golds, at the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships and have been in even stronger form during this year’s World Cup.
Around 170 athletes in the visually impaired, sit-ski and standing classes will compete in 20 medal events in sprint, middle and long-distance events, as well as team relays.
Sit-skier Roman Petushkov and visually impaired skier Mikhalina Lysova have the potential to be two of the biggest individual medal winners for the hosts at Sochi 2014 but will face stiff competition from Ukrainian athletes.
Ice sledge hockey
If you enjoyed wheelchair rugby for its big hits and brutality during London 2012, then you will absolutely love ice sledge hockey.
The sport is just like ice hockey in the Olympics, except that all players use sledges and two sticks to propel themselves across the ice.
Eight teams will battle it out for gold in Shayba Arena starting on 8 March.
World champions Canada will start as favourites to win gold in the final on 15 March, but defending champions and world silver medallists USA will be reluctant to give up their title. Russia could be the dark horses of the competition. Having only started their ice sledge hockey programme five years ago, they are already world bronze medallists.
Canada are the only team to have won Paralympic gold in wheelchair curling since it was first introduced into the Paralympics in 2006 and, as world champions, will start as strong favourites to win gold in the Ice Cube Curling Centre.
The competition will feature 10 mixed gender teams and other contenders for the Paralympic title will be world silver medallists Sweden, China, South Korea and hosts Russia.
Over 300 hours of live action from Sochi 2014 will be streamed live via www.paralympic.org Each sport will have its own dedicated HD channel, and should you miss the live action do not worry. All races and matches will be uploaded to www.youtube.com/ParalympicSportTV as videos on demand allowing you to catch-up on all the action at a time that best suits you.
All the latest updates can also be found via Twitter/Paralympic and Facebook/ParalympicGames.