With the excitement of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia having come to an end, a new excitement is on the horizon with the Paralympics beginning March 7 – 16. The Paralympics is a time to celebrate differently abled athletes who excel at winter sports of all kinds. Perhaps even more momentous than an Olympic win, a Paralympic athlete who medals has not only overcome the odds in his or her sport, but the odds of living with a disability and achieving one of the highest athletic accomplishments in the world.
2014 athletes will be competing in 5 main events. Check out the events and some of the spotlight athletes competing in each category below.
This even consists of a 2 or 2.5km ski course mixed with 2 targets that athletes must hit via shooting. The target size is modified for those with visual impairments vs. those competitors with physical impairments.
Spotlight athletes: Brian McKeever (Canada); Iryna Bui (Ukraine)
Ice Sledge Hockey
Ice Sledge Hockey is typically played by athletes with an injury or disability to their lower body. Athletes compete on the hockey rink seated in ice sleds which allow them to glide across the ice and compete in this physical contact sport.
Spotlight teams that will be competing this year: Canada, USA, Russia, Italy, Norway, Korea
Much like the traditional game of curling, wheelchair curling is played from the seat of the athletes’ wheelchairs. A relatively new event to the Paralympics, wheelchair curling made its first appearance at the world championship in 2002.
Spotlight teams that will be competing this year: Russia, China, USA, Canada, Finland, Great Britain, Korea, Norway, Sweden, Slovakia
Alpine Skiing and Snowboard
Alpine skiing events accommodate athletes with visual or physical impairments. Often the athletes compete at speeds near 100km per hour. Participants compete for the fastest times. Those with visual impairments are guided through the course using signals while skis are adapted for those with physical limitations.
Spotlight athletes: Amy Purdy (USA); Andrea Rothfuss (Germany)
Cross Country Skiing
Many athletes participating in this event compete via a sitting ski which is ideal for those athletes who typically use a wheelchair in their everyday lives.
Spotlight athletes: Mariann Marthinsen (Norway); Brian McKeever (Canada)
Who will YOU be watching during the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi? Do you have a favorite Paralympic athlete or sport? Who do you think will take home the gold this year? Share in the comments!
*Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons