The 2018 Winter Paralympic Games kicked off on March 9th! Team USA is leading the pack with three gold medals (and five total medals) through the first full day of competition in Alpine Skiing and Biathlon. We’re moving forward with our fifth sport preview: Snowboarding!
Snowboarding is a relatively new sport in the Olympic and Paralympic world. It got its start in 1965 in Michigan when Sherman Poppen fastened two skis together as a toy for his daughter. He dubbed it the “snurfer” (combining snow and surfer) and it took off from there. By the year 2000 it was dubbed the fastest growing recreation in the US with a 51% increase in participants from the prior year. Adaptive athletes would not be left behind with hundreds embracing this new sport world-wide. Snowboarding made its Paralympic debut at the Sochi Games in 2014 with a Snowboard Cross event.
At this years Games the athletes are classified into three groups, upper limb impaired, lower limb impaired affecting one limb, and lower limb impaired affecting both limbs. All competing is done standing with many racers in the lower limb category using a prosthesis. Expanding from Sochi there are now 12 events across men’s and women’s Snowboard Cross and Banked Slalom. In Snowboard Cross, competitors race on a course with banks, rollers, spines and jumps. In the Banked Slalom events, the course has banked turns with competitors taking their best time out of three runs.
Some athletes to watch in March include Bibian Mentel-Spee and Chris Vos from the Netherlands, Brenna Huckaby, and Mike Schultz from the US and Matti Suur-Hamari from Finland. Mentel-Spee, Vos, Huckaby, and Suur-Hamari were double gold medal winners at the 2017 World Para Snowboarding Championships while Schultz brought out the US flag at the opening ceremonies.
Snowboarding started out on the 10th with training runs. Medals will be awarded in Snowboard Cross and Banked Slalom on the 12th and 16th! Check here for TV and streaming schedules and follow along with video coverage on NBC Olympics and the PyeongChang 2018 website!