Sport Profiles, Alpine Skiing

Sport Summary:
Two Alpine Skiing events (Slalom and Giant Slalom) were introduced at the first Paralympic Winter Games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, in 1976. Athletes in Alpine Skiing events must combine speed and agility while racing down slopes at speeds of around 100km/h. Paralympic competition accommodates male and female athletes with a physical disability such as spinal injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, les autres conditions and blindness/visual impairment. Athletes compete in three categories based on their functional ability, and a results calculation system allows athletes with different disabilities to compete against each other. The rules of the International Ski Federation (FIS) are used with only a few modifications. Skiers with blindness/visual impairment are guided through the course by sighted guides using voice signals to indicate the course to follow. Athletes with physical disabilities use equipment that is adapted to their needs including single ski, sit-ski or orthopaedic aids.  

Paralympic Events (in Torino 2006):
There are four events on the Paralympic Program: Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom and Slalom. 

Rules & Equipment:
Skis: The skis used in Alpine Skiing events are long and narrow (minimum of 60mm). Men's skis are a minimum of 165cm and women's skis are a minimum of 155cm. The maximum height of the binding plate is 55mm in all events. 

Sit-skis: 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. 

Poles or outriggers: Skiers in Alpine Skiing events use poles for propulsion and balance. The poles for Downhill and Super-G events are curved to fit around the body. Slalom poles are straight and usually have plastic guards to protect the hands from injury. 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. 

Boots and bindings: Boots for Alpine Skiing events have a hard plastic exterior with extensive foot and ankle support. The heel height of boots is regulated, with a maximum distance of 50mm between the sole and the heel. Alpine skiers use bindings that attach at both the heel and toe. 

Helmets: Hard-shell helmets are required in Alpine Skiing events. 

Goggles: Goggles are used to protect the eyes and to maximize visibility. 

Clothing: Alpine ski races wear lightweight, form-fitting clothing (all in one suit) to minimize air resistance. Slalom skiers frequently wear pads to protect from injury. 

Classification:There are eleven classifications for athletes with a physical disability (seven for standing and three for sitting) and three for athletes with visual impairments. When classifications are combined in competition due to an insufficient number of athletes in a class, a formula is used to "factor" athletes' times according to their classification status. 

Click here for a more detailed explanation of Alpine Skiing classification. 

Visually impaired
  • B1 Totally blind
  • B2 Partially sighted with little remaining sight
  • B3 Partially sighted with more remaining sight
  • LW1 double above-knee amputees
  • LW2 outrigger skiers
  • LW3 double below-knee amputees/ CP5, CP6
  • LW4 skiers with prosthesis
  • LW5/7 skiers without poles (LW5/7-1, LW5/7-2, LW 5/7-3)
  • LW6/8 skiers with one pole (LW6/8 -1, LW6/8 -2)
  • LW9 disability of arm and leg (Amputation, CP, Hemiplegic), (LW9/1, LW9/2)
  • LW10 mono skiers (high degree of paraplegia), (LW10/1, LW10/2)
  • LW11 mono skiers (lower degree of paraplegia)
  • LW12/1 mono skiers (lower degree of paraplegia, double AK Amputees), (LW12/1, LW 12/2)
<Currently unavailable on the APC site>