Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Paralympics are Coming!

We always hear about the Olympics in mainstream media well before they arrive. For weeks, coverage of Olympic events dominates evening television. Unless we are paying careful attention, the Paralympics might slip by unnoticed, especially since they are separated from the Olympics and follow behind them at the Olympics venue. Dedicated Paralympic fans get their news online and might take advantage of whatever tiny amount of television coverage takes place, usually after the games. You can click on the links in the sidebar here to find online coverage. The following is a little primer to get you started.

The Paralympics started in 1960 and have been going strong ever since. This year's Winter Paralympics are from March 21-21 in Vancouver and feature 5 main sports: alpine skiing, nordic skiing, sled hockey, wheelchair curling, and biathlon. Alpine events are the downhill, slalom, giant slalom, and super giant slalom, same as with the Olympics. Nordic skiing features races of different distances and the biathlon, into which shooting at targets is integrated. Skiers compete in three categories: standing, seated, and blind. Sled hockey, played on seated ice skates, is every bit as intense as conventional hockey. Wheelchair curling made its debut in the last Paralympics and is a fascinating competition of aim and technique.

While not all these sports take place in the outdoors, subsequent posts will delve into each one. The real stories are the athletes themselves of course. Each one has a unique journey to the Paralympics. Stephanie Victor, pictured above, is the force to be reckoned with in the downhill events and will give Laurie Stephens from Massachusetts some fierce competition. Stay tuned!

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