New Zealand has a long and proud history at the Paralympic Winter Games, making its debut 38 years ago at the Geilo 1980 Paralympic Winter Games. Four years later at Innsbruck 1984, New Zealand picked up its first Paralympic winter medals and has now medalled at every Games since, barring once in 2006. Altogether, New Zealand has won 28 Paralympic medals, a total including 15 gold, 6 silver and 7 bronze.
Rewinding to 1988, the Paralympic Winter Games were held in Innsbruck for the second time and a new generation of kiwi Para skiers had hit the slopes. Patrick Cooper emerged to become New Zealand’s most decorated winter Paralympian. Cooper won 6 medals across 3 Paralympic Winter Games, including a silver at Innsbruck 1988 in Men’s Slalom LW4 and two spectacular gold medals at Albertville 1992 in Men’s Slalom LW4 and Men’s Super-G LW4. This was a feat he was to repeat at Lillehammer 1994 two years on, when he defended his 2 gold medals and picked up a bronze in the Men’s Giant Slalom LW4.
“If I am proudest of any one thing, it would be defending the gold medals from Albertville two years later in Lillehammer,” he said this week. “To win them back-to-back that way was such a huge moment for a boy from Tongariro, who was first introduced to snow by his Dad when we sledded about on plastic bags.”
Cooper, a below knee single amputee, said he would be watching the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Team with great interest: “Actually, Para snowboarder Carl Murphy is the most like me, as he also races on a prosthetic. But you can’t see it, so you have no idea he has a disability when you watch him race.”
“I hope our guys really take a moment to stop and think about what they have achieved in getting to South Korea. It’s years of work and I know they will be nervous but taking a moment to soak it all in is worth it.”
In just a few hours, the New Zealand Paralympic Team will march into the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium as the Opening Ceremony for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games gets underway. Led by flag-bearer Corey Peters, the team is targeting two medals in Para alpine skiing and Para snowboarding.
Watch the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games live on DUKE and TVNZ.co.nz from midnight on 9 March. In addition, tune into TV OnDemand to watch “Slick as Ice”, a behind-the-scenes documentary by Attitude Pictures exploring the dedication and determination of our winter Paralympians.
To find out everything you need to know visit out PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games page here.
To watch PyeongChang 2018 live please visit TVNZ here.