Winter Paralympics: Everything you need to know about the sports


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The Winter Paralympics 2018 kick off this week in Pyeongchang in South Korea and the athletes are getting ready to give it their best shot.

Here’s our rundown of five winter sports to look forward to…

Para Ice Hockey

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In this Paralympic version of ice hockey, players sit in double-blade sledges to whizz around on the ice.

It’s fast and furious, and very physical: no wonder it’s one of the biggest attractions for sports fans!

The sport started at the Paralympics at the Lillehammer Games in 1994 and many of the rules and regulations of the sport are the same as ice hockey; the main difference is that athletes use specially-designed sledges fitted with two blades to get across the ice and have two playing sticks: both to push themselves along, like a ski-pole, and to control and shoot the puck.

The game has three periods, each 15 minutes long. Six players are allowed on the ice at any time and a total of 15 players make up a team.

Para Alpine Skiing

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Skiing is a sport which is practised worldwide, and the best para-athletes combine speed and agility while racing down slopes at speeds of around 100km/h!

Athletes taking part have all sorts of disabilities and compete in three categories – seated, standing and visually impaired. Results take into account each athlete’s disability when calculating a time.

Skiers who are blind or visually impaired ski with guides who can see and use communication tools to help them down the course while those in the standing and seated categories use special equipment which is adapted to their needs.

Para Snowboard

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After first appearing in a Games in Sochi four years ago where two golds were up for grabs, there are more medals on offer in more categories this time around.

Athletes will compete in snowboard cross and banked slalom events.

In snowboard cross, boarders race down a course with various terrain features such as banks, rollers and jumps.

Banked slalom is an event where the athletes race on a course with banked turns. All competitors take three timed runs. The best timed run determines the final results.

Para Nordic Skiing

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Germany’s Andrea Eskau was one of the few non-Russian or Ukraine gold medallists in the sport in Sochi

There are two competitions in this sport – cross-country skiing and biathlon – the sport is a test of endurance and skill.

The cross-country element has been part of the Winter Paralympics since the first ever Games in Sweden in 1976 while biathlon started in 1988. Athletes with a visual disability were included four years later.

Cross-country skiers can compete in individual or team, classical or freestyle events ranking from 2.5km to 20km in distance.

Both disciplines have medal events for men and women and some athletes will take part in six events across both disciplines over the course of the Games.

Wheelchair Curling

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Norway’s hopes will be led by the experienced Rune Lorentsen

The sport is similar to the Olympic version but with one key difference – no sweeping is allowed, meaning pushing the stone accurately is even more important.

The team which places the most stones closest to the centre of the target wins the point.

Teams are comprised of mixed male and female athletes who have a physical disability in the lower half of their body.

The team has four players: Lead, second, third and skip, plus an alternate who can come in as a replacement, like a substitute in football.

Great Britain won bronze in Sochi four years ago.

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