Para alpine skiing is practiced worldwide and features six disciplines: downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G, super combined, and team events. Athletes combine speed and agility while racing down slopes at speeds of around 100km/h.
Competition accommodates male and female athletes with a physical impairment 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 impairments to compete against each other.
Skiers with blindness/visual impairment are guided through the course by sighted guides using signals to indicate the course to follow. Some athletes use equipment that is adapted to their needs including single ski, sit-ski or orthopaedic aids.
World Para Alpine Skiing, formerly known as IPC Alpine Skiing, acts as the International Federation for the sport which is co-ordinated by the World Para Alpine Skiing Technical Committee.
Five events are on the Paralympic programme: downhill, super-G, super combined, giant slalom, and slalom.
Each athlete competes one run down the course with their finish time determining the final order based on ascending time. Athletes ski down a long, steep course and must pass through a relatively few number of gates. If an athlete misses a gate they are disqualified. For weather, safety and other reasons, the jury can decide to have two-run downhill if the vertical drop does not comply.
Each athlete competes two runs on the same day on different courses. Times from the two runs are added together to determine the final order based on ascending total time. It is a technical event over a shorter course than other events but with a high number of gates that the athlete must negotiate. If an athlete misses a gate they are disqualified.
Each athlete completes two runs on the same day on different courses. Times from the two runs are added together to determine the final order based on ascending total time. It is a technical event with a longer course and fewer gates than the slalom. The number of gates is determined by the vertical drop of the course. If an athlete misses a gate they are disqualified.
A speed event where each athlete completes one run down the course with their finish time determining the final order based on ascending time. The course is generally shorter than downhill but longer than slalom and giant slalom.
A combined competition which represents the final result of two disciplines - usually one of either a downhill or super-G and a single run of slalom. Each athlete competes two runs on the same day on different courses. Times from the two runs are added together to determine the final order based on ascending total time.
How to guides
To learn more about how the various impairment groups compete, check-out these informative 'How to' guides:
• 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
Following the end of the Second World War, there was a systematic development of ski sport for persons with an impairment as injured ex-servicemen returned to the sport they loved. In 1948, the first courses were offered.
The first documented Championships for skiers with an impairment were held in Badgastein, Austria, in 1948 with 17 athletes taking part. Since 1950, events have been held around the world. The introduction of sit-ski allowed people in wheelchairs (paraplegics and double above-the-knee amputees) to begin to ski and race.
The first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden in 1976 and featured two alpine disciplines - slalom and giant slalom.
Downhill was added to the Paralympic programme in 1984 in Innsbruck, Austria, and super-G was added in 1994 at Lillehammer, Norway. Sit-skiing was introduced as a demonstration sport at the Innsbruck 1984 Paralympics and became a medal event at the Nagano 1998 Paralympic Games.
In 2016, IPC Alpine Skiing was renamed and rebranded to World Para Alpine Skiing.