Nordic Skiing
Para Nordic Skiing

Para Nordic Skiing


Para Nordic skiing consists of two disciplines, cross-country skiing and biathlon.

Until 2018, Great Britain had not had representation in the sport at this level since the 1998 Paralympic Games in Nagano.

Sport Details

The Rules

Both para Nordic skiing disciplines have medal events for men and women. Cross country skiers can compete in individual or team, classical or freestyle events ranging from 2.5km to 20km in distance. Visually impaired skiers compete with a guide, while athletes with a physical impairment compete using either a sit-ski or standing using one or two skis and/or poles.

Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and target shooting. Athletes compete in one of three categories: sitting, standing and visually-impaired. Athletes ski three 2.5km legs (7.5km in total) and fire at five targets (located 10m from the shooter) between each leg using air guns that are mounted on stands.

Para Nordic skier Scott Meenagh in training

At Sochi 2014

The cross-country events at Sochi 2014 were dominated by the Russian Federation who won 32 of the 60 available medals – 12 gold, nine silver and 11 bronze. Canada and the Ukraine finished second and third on the medal table respectively, with the former winning four gold medals and the latter claiming one gold, six silvers and three bronzes. It was a similar story in biathlon with Russia taking 30 of the 55 medals – 12 golds, 11 silvers and seven bronzes – while the Ukraine finished second in the standings with four golds, three silvers and eight bronzes and Germany were third with two gold and a silver.

First year at a Paralympic Games

Ornskoldsvik 1976 (Cross-Country) Innsbruck 1988 (Biathlon)

Brief History

Cross-Country skiing first appeared at the Örnsköldsvik 1976 Paralympic Winter Games. Biathlon for athletes with a physical impairment was introduced at the Innsbruck 1988 Paralympic Games.

Athletes with a visual impairment were added into the biathlon programme in 1992.

Nordic Skiing Classification

Skiers in Cross-Country and Biathlon compete in several different sport classes, depending on the activity limitation that their impairment causes.

Sport Classes LW 2-9: Standing Skiers

Skiers with leg impairments:

Sport Class LW 2: The skiers have an impairment affecting one leg, for example an amputation above the knee. They will use a prosthesis and ski with two skis.

Sport Class LW 3: This sport class includes skiers with an impairment in both legs, such as muscle weakness in both legs.

Sport Class LW 4: Skiers in this sport class include those with impairments in the lower parts of one leg, but with less impact on skiing compared to LW 2. Typical examples are amputations above the ankle or loss of muscle control in one leg.

Skiers with arm impairments:

Sport Class LW 57: This sport class is designated for athletes with impairments in both arms that prohibit them to use ski poles. Skiers, for example, have no hands or cannot grip firmly. Therefore, you will see them skiing without poles.

Sport Class LW 6: Athletes competing in the LW 6 sport class have a significant impairment in one arm, for example a missing arm above the elbow. The impaired arm is fixed to their body and may not be used during the races. With the other hand they will use a ski pole.

Sport Class LW 8: Skiers in this sport class have moderate impairments affecting one arm. Athletes, for example, cannot flex the elbow or fingers on one side or they have a below elbow amputation. They will use one ski pole only.

Skiers with combined impairments in arms and legs:

Sport Class LW 9: This sport class is designed for skiers who have an impairment in arms and legs. Some of the LW9 skiers have mild coordination problems in all extremities. Others have amputations affecting at one arm and one leg. Depending on their abilities, they will ski with one or two ski poles.

Sport Classes LW 10-12: Sit-Skiers

All sit-skiers have an impairment affecting their legs. They are allocated different sport classes depending on their trunk control, which is very important for acceleration and balancing during the races.

Sport Class LW 10: Skiers have an impairment that limits their leg and trunk function. They would be unable to sit without supporting himself or herself with the arms, for example due to paraplegia.

Sport Class LW 10.5: Skiers in this sport class also have limited trunk control, but they can keep their sitting balance when not moving sideways.

Sport Class LW 11: Skiers have a leg impairment and fair trunk control, which enables them to balance even when moving sideways.

Sport Class LW 11.5: Skiers in this sport class have near to normal trunk control.

Sport Class LW 12: Skiers in this sport class have impairments similar to those described for the sport classes LW 2-4: They have a leg impairment, but normal trunk control. They are eligible to compete standing or sitting and can chose their preferred way of skiing at their first Classification.

Sport Classes B1-3: Skiers with visual impairment

Sport Class B1: Skiers in this sport class are either blind or have very low visual acuity. By way of explanation, their level of visual acuity is such that the athlete cannot recognize the letter “E” (15x15cm in size) from a distance of 25cm. During the race they wear eyeshades.

Sport Class B2: This sport class profile includes athletes with a higher visual acuity than athletes competing in the B1 class, but they are unable to recognize the letter “E” from a distance of 4m. Moreover, athletes with a visual field of less than 10 degrees diameter are eligible for this sport class.

Sport Class B3: The B3 sport class profile describes the least severe visual impairment eligible for Nordic Skiing. Eligible athletes either have a restricted visual field of less than 40 degrees diameter or a low visual acuity.

For B1 skiers a guide is obligatory and B2 and B3 skiers may choose to ski with a guide. The guide skis immediately ahead of the athlete and verbally informs the athlete of course specifics such as corners, inclines, and declines. In Biathlon, athletes with visual impairment shoot at the target by following sound signals.

The Percentage System in Nordic Skiing

The percentage-system is an adjusted time formula, which is used to determine overall place of each competitor relative to all other racers. This formula assigns a percentage to each competitor based on each individual’s particular race class. The athlete’s actual time is multiplied by this percentage to determine his/her adjusted finishing time. Each class has different percentage for the different techniques, classic and free technique. The percentages will be evaluated after every season and changes will be done if necessary. This will be done by the IPNSC.

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