The Winter Paralympics is an international multi-sport event, for athletes from all around the world with physical disabilities. Depending on an athlete’s situation, he or she is classified into one of the following groups: those who sit, those who stand, or visually impaired. With these classifications, an arm amputee snowboarder will not be competing against blind snowboarder. The Paralympics gives those who cannot compete in the standard Olympics because of their disability a chance to represent their country.
The 2018 Winter Paralympics lasted from March 9th until March 18th, in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Winter Paralympics is always held several weeks after the Winter Olympics in the same location. Paralympic athletes compete in many of the same events as Olympic athletes, such as biathlon, alpine skiing, and snowboarding. They have some unique events such as wheelchair curling and para ice hockey (ice hockey on sleds). This year, about 50 countries competed in the Paralympics, and the United States sent 68 athletes.
Some of the most popular American athletes who went to the games were Mike Shultz (Snowboarding), Noah Elliot (Slalom Skiing), Oksana Masters (Cross Country Skiing), and Kendall Gretsch (Biathlon). The United States came in first place in the medal count with 13 gold medals, 15 silver medals, and 8 bronze medals. In second place, came Canada, followed by the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (Russian Federation).
The 2018 Winter Paralympics was one of the most broadcasted Paralympics in history. It was broadcasted in over 100 territories and got over 40 hours of broadcast time. In addition, it broke the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics 2.1-billion viewers record. Year by year, the Paralympics is getting more attention from the media, and by 2024, the Summer Paralympics is expected to get over 100 hours of screen time.
The Paralympics has come a long way from when it was first created in 1960. In the 2018 Winter Paralympics alone, 650 athletes competed for a shot at the 80 possible gold medals. The main point of the Paralympics is to give hope to those in a similar situation as the athletes competing. If you have hopes and dreams, you too can surmount obstacles to achieve these aspirations. As Summer Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius puts it, “Don’t focus on the disability, focus on the ability.”
By: Julia Marotti’21, Staff Writer