As the Paralympic Winter Games show us once again, impairment needn’t be any barrier to the slopes
With the world’s sporting eyes on Beijing, British athletes are once again excelling at the Paralympic Winter Games. Medals in the first two days for Millie Knight, Menna Fitzpatrick, and Neil Simpson have demonstrated that Britain’s recent history of bagging medals at the Paralympic Winter Games shows no sign of slowing down.
If the breadth of the talent on show demonstrates anything, it’s that Para Snowsport is a field with something to offer for everyone. Take two of our Alpine Games debutants in 2022 – Neil Simpson is making his first appearance in the Men’s Visually Impaired category as a 19-year-old, while in the Women’s Seated events Shona Brownlee is making hers at 42.
Or take Para Nordic where, in 2018, Scott Meenagh competed for ParalympicsGB as the nation’s sole representative, but now sets out as part of a squad of five athletes, each with their own story to tell and their own route into the Games.
For some of the athletes representing ParalympicsGB out in Bejing, their journey towards the pinnacle of the sport hadn’t even begun when the 2018 Games took place. The opportunity to get inspired, get involved, and excel is genuinely available.
Of course, the cut and thrust of competition isn’t for everybody, but that needn’t mean adaptive snowsports aren’t an option. Across Britain, specialists in skiing and snowboarding for disabled people provide access to the snow for people of any age, any impairment, and any level. Whether it’s the Home Nations National Governing Bodies, the indoor snow domes, or the dedicated specialists at Disability Snowsport UK, there’s support and opportunity available for anyone inspired to give it a try.
Ahead of the Games, Disability Snowsport UK CEO, Virginia Anderson, explained:
“We know our work is transformative for disabled children and adults, their families and the wider community and we’re thrilled that the Winter Paralympic Games will inspire more people to think they can have a go too. Snowsport truly is for everyone and disabled people can realise their ambitions and follow their Paralympic heroes onto future podiums. Our ski schools across the UK welcome everyone to come and try it out – it might just change your life”.
Elaine Boyd, a charted accountant, has cerebral palsy which affects her mobility and balance, but it hasn’t held her back.
Elaine took up skiing when a milestone birthday came around and she wanted to try something new. She’s gone on to ski regularly at Glasgow’s Snow Factor and has travelled abroad with her friends, husband and daughter. She says:
“My instructor has found ways for me to maximise the movement I have and connect it all up to my wonky brain ability. This has enabled me to use my left side in ways that has not been possible previously.
“I have also gained more confidence generally and I’m sure that’s down to learning to learning to ski. He has taught me to that it’s ok to fall you just need to stand up afterwards. For the first time ever, we have been able to take part in a sport together as a family.”
If the Paralympic Winter Games has inspired you to think about routes into Para Snowsport, find out more about where to start in our Para Snowsport Pathways hub
Header Image: YANQING, CHINA – MARCH 06: Menna Fitzpatrick reacts in the Para Alpine Skiing Women’s Super-G Vision Impaired during day two of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre on March 06, 2022 in Yanqing, China. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)