British athletes will represent ParalympicsGB in para snowboard for the very first time at PyeongChang 2018.
Para snowboard made its Games debut at Sochi 2014 with two medal events in women’s and men’s snowboard cross. A firm spectator favourite, the sport has grown considerably since Sochi, with ten medal events now on the programme.
Competition includes male and female athletes with physical impairments such as spinal injury, cerebral palsy and amputation. Athletes compete in three categories based on their functional ability – SB-LL1 and SB-LL2 for athletes with lower limb impairments and SB-UL for athletes with an upper limb impairment. At PyeongChang there will be male and female competition in all events with the exception of SB-UL where only a male medal will be contested. Athletes will compete in two events at PyeongChang 2018; snowboard cross and banked slalom.
Snowboard cross (head-to-head): During qualification, each athlete completes three runs down the course with their best run determining the final order based on ascending time. There is only one rider on the course at a time during qualification.
Finals comprise 16 men and eight women, with two competitors per heat or such other numbers as determined by the jury. The finalists race against each other to determine the final rankings.
The ideal snowboard cross may allow the construction of any features excluding: gap jumps, corner jumps, spines and double spines, cutting banks, giant slalom turns and negative banks.
Banked slalom: Each athlete completes three runs down the course with their best run determining the final order, based on the ascending time. There is only one rider on the course at a time.
The course may be a medium pitched slope. It may be naturally varying terrain, with plenty of bumps and dips, and preferably a U-shape/natural valley.
First year at a Paralympic Games
In 2005, a group of riders began their campaign to get para snowboard included at the Paralympic Winter Games.
Thanks to their efforts, it was announced in 2012 that snowboard would make its debut at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. There were two medal events in snowboard cross time-trial, including lower-limb impairment classifications for men and women. The Netherlands’ Bibian Mentel-Spee secured gold in the women’s event and the Evan Strong led the USA’s podium domination in the men’s competition.
In 2015, the first IPC Snowboard World Championships were held in La Molina, Spain. Banked slalom and snowboard cross head-to-head were contested for the first time. There were also changes in the competition structure, with the lower-limb impairments split into SB-LL1 and SB-LL2 classifications, appearing alongside the SB-UL category for riders with upper-limb impairments.
Great Britain’s Ben Moore won silver in the banked slalom and bronze in the snowboard cross SB-UL events.
In 2015, the IPC provisionally increased the number of Paralympic medal events for PyeongChang 2018 to ten from the two seen at Sochi 2014, featuring six medal events for men and four for women.
At the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships in Big White, Canada, British athletes reached the podium once again. There was bronze for Ben Moore in the banked slalom SB-UL and silver for Owen Pick in the SB-LL2 equivalent. James Barnes Miller also narrowly missed out on a podium place in the men’s snowboard cross SB-UL, finishing in 4th place.
At Sochi 2014
USA (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)
Netherlands (1 gold)
France (1 silver)
Para snowboard currently offers three sport classes, two for athletes with leg impairments and one for athletes with arm impairments.
The sport is under development and with its growth the classification system will be refined gradually.
Sport class SB-LL1:
Athletes classified in the SB-LL1 sport class will have an significant impairment in one leg, for example an above knee amputation, or a significant combined impairment in two legs, for example significant muscle weakness or spasticity in both legs. This will affect their ability to balance, control the board and absorb the terrain. Athletes with amputations will use prosthesis during the races.
Sport class SB-LL2:
Snowboarders in the SB-LL2 sport class will have an impairment in one or two legs with less activity limitation. A typical example is a below knee amputation or mild spasticity.
Sport Class SB-UL:
Snowboarders in the SB-UL class have impairments of the upper limbs, which impacts on the ability to balance when racing down the slopes.
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