30 things you need to know about the Paralympic Winter Games
With the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing just 15 days away, discover key facts about the Paralympic Winter Games, from the most successful country to the most successful New Zealand Paralympian.
When the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games kick off on the 4th of March, Beijing will become the first city to host both the summer and winter Paralympics after staging the Summer Games in 2008. Beijing 2022 will be taking place just six months after the postponed summer Games in Tokyo that closed on 5 September – the shortest gap between a summer and winter Games.
With 15 days to go until the start of the Paralympic Winter Games, here are 30 of our favourite facts and we have broken this into three main categories: athletes, sports, and venue.
Let’s kick things off by looking at some of the Para Athletes that have left their mark on the Paralympic Winter Games and some of the Kiwis looking for success this time around.
Winter Para Athletes
1. The number of competitors at the Paralympic Winter Games has risen with each edition, from 198 at Örnsköldsvik 1976 to 567 at PyeongChang 2018. Beijing 2022 will feature around 730 Para athletes and 78 medal events.
2. The most decorated winter Paralympian is Norway’s Ragnhild Myklebust with 27 medals – 22 golds, three silvers and three bronze– from biathlon, cross-country skiing, and ice sledge speed racing. Germany’s Reinhild Moeller is another inspiring winter Paralympian, also competing in the summer Games. She has a combined medal count of 19, most of which came in alpine skiing, but she also has medals from track and field events.
3. Canadian Lauren Woolstencroft won all five Para alpine skiing events (downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super combined) at a single Paralympic Winter Games on home soil in Vancouver in 2010 – a historic first.
4. Norway are the most successful country at the Paralympic Winter Games with 136 golds, 106 silvers and 85 bronze. Austria has the most medals at the Paralympic Winter Games with 332. The International Paralympic Committee maintains separate records for Germany and West Germany, otherwise their combined total would be 364 medals including 137 gold medals, 121 silver medals and 106 bronze medals. New Zealand currently sits 13th on the list with 16 gold medals, 6 silver medals and 9 bronze medals for a total of 31 medals.
5. Adam Hall will be aiming to close the gap on New Zealand’s most successful winter Paralympian in Beijing. Patrick Cooper won 6 medals across 3 Paralympic Winter Games including four golds, a silver, and a bronze. Hall, will be competing in his fifth Paralympic Winter Games, looking to add to his two gold medals and a bronze.
6. At PyeongChang, Hall was bestowed with an incredible honour when he was announced as winner of the Whang Yuon Dai Achievement Award. This is presented to only one male and one female Paralympian at each Paralympic Games who best exemplify the spirit of the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic values.
7. Oksana Masters became only the second Paralympian to win the prestigious Individual Sportswoman of the Year award from the Women’s Sports Foundation. The American Nordic skier was recognised in 2018 after a glittering performance at PyeongChang 2018, where she took two golds, two silvers and one bronze.
8. Three countries made their Winter Paralympic debut at the last Games in PyeongChang: Georgia (2 athletes), North Korea (2 athletes) and Tajikistan (1 athlete). There will be 90 nations taking part in the Beijing Winter Paralympics with Haiti and Saudi Arabia set to make their first appearance. Kenya also had an athlete who qualified for Beijing 2022 which would have been another debut, but unfortunately they had to withdraw.
9. Talking of debuts, Aaron Ewen will be making his first appearance at a Paralympic Winter Games when he represents New Zealand in Para alpine skiing. Ewen was selected for the team for PyeongChang, however, he had to withdraw through injury and has had to wait four long years to make his debut.
10. Completing the New Zealand Paralympic Team in Beijing will be two-time Paralympian Corey Peters. Peters will be hoping to go one step further in Beijing, having picked up a bronze medal in PyeongChang and a silver medal in Sochi. Peters, a sit-skier, will compete in the Para alpine ski events including Downhill, Giant Slalom and Super-G.
Paralympic Winter Games Sports
11. Six sports make up the Beijing 2022 Paralympic programme: Para alpine skiing, Para biathlon, Para cross-country skiing, Para ice hockey, Para snowboard and wheelchair curling. All three of New Zealand’s Para athletes will compete in the Para alpine skiing events in Beijing.
12. Wheelchair curlers compete for one title at the Paralympic Winter Games. Teams are mixed and there must one female athlete on the ice at all times. Wheelchair curling is not currently played here in New Zealand, but it could be, certainly at a recreational level. Local curling clubs around New Zealand are generally keen to welcome wheelchair players. Find a Have-A-Go day on the New Zealand Curling website.
13. In wheelchair curling, athletes do not sweep the ice to manoeuvre the stone to its final position like in Olympic curling. This means the throw must be very precise. With three Paralympic golds, Canadian Sonja Gaudet is the world’s most decorated wheelchair curler.
14. Para ice hockey was formerly known as ice sledge hockey until it was rebranded in 2016. Great Britain were one of the pioneers of Para ice hockey, establishing a team even before big ice hockey nations like Canada in 1982 and the USA in 1990. Despite their history, Great Britain has not had much success at the Paralympics with Para ice hockey. Norway and Canada have one Para ice hockey gold each, but Norway has three silvers, one more than their North American rivals.
15. Para ice hockey is a mixed sport. At PyeongChang 2018, Lena SchrÃ¸der from Norway became the second female player at the Winter Paralympics after compatriot Britt Mjaasund Øyen in 1994.
16. As well as the downhill disciplines of Para alpine skiing, athletes can compete cross-country in Para Nordic sports. The two Para Nordic sports are Para cross-country skiing and Para biathlon.
17. German Verena Bentele and Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko are the most decorated men’s and women’s biathletes with six and five golds, respectively.
18. Para alpine skiing features five disciplines: downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super combined.
19. Para snowboarders compete in three different events at the Paralympics – snowboard-cross, which is a head-to-head race, banked slalom, a race around flags and giant slalom.
20. Norway top the cross-country skiing medal standings at the Paralympic Winter Games with 78 golds, 48 silvers and 35 bronze.
Paralympic Winter Games Venues
21. Like the summer Paralympics, the winter edition is always held after the Olympics in the same city. This has happened since Albertville 1992 thanks to an agreement between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
22. There will be six Paralympic sport venues at Beijing 2022, spread across the competition zones of Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangijakou.
23. The Beijing 2022 mascot, Shuey Rhon Rhon, is a Chinese lantern child which represents harvest, celebration, warmth, and light.
24. The Beijing 2022 medals reflect the culture and spirit of the host country, and encapsulate the innovative ideas and inspiring creativity of the artists.
The centre of the front of the medals is engraved with the logo of the International Paralympic Committee. This is surrounded by the words ‘Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games’ in English in engraved letters and Braille beads.
The emblem of the Winter Games is engraved in the centre on the back of the medals. The full Chinese name for the Games is engraved around the medal.
25. At Beijing 2022, Para alpine skiing will be held at the National Alpine Ski Centre. Para cross-country skiing and biathlon will be at the National Biathlon Centre. Para snowboard will be at the Genting Snow Park.
26. At Beijing 2022, wheelchair curling will take place in the Water Cube which staged Para swimming at Beijing 2008. The National Indoor Stadium – which hosted wheelchair basketball – will feature Para ice hockey.
27. China only has one Paralympic gold medal from their wheelchair curling win in 2018. This places them 30th on the overall medals table as they head into their home Paralympics at Beijing 2022. They will be hoping home advantage and the support of the crowds leads to more medals in 2022. Increased investment in Para sport in China in the lead up to the Games is likely to fuel a quest for more medals.
28. PyeongChang 2018 holds the record for tickets sold at a Winter Paralympics with 343,000, more than the previous record of 316,200 sales set at the Sochi 2014. In normal times, Beijing 2022 would likely smash this record, but ticket sales have recently been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, TV audiences are expected to hit record highs.
29. The Beijing 2022 motto for both Olympic and Paralympic Games is ‘Together for a Shared Future’.
30. The next Winter Paralympic Games will take place in 2026 in Milan-Cortina, Italy.
The countdown is on
Excitement is starting to build both here in New Zealand and around the world. There are just 15 days to go until the start of the Paralympic Winter Games. They take place 4-13 March, right after the Winter Olympics. Beijing 2022 promises a sporting extravaganza. It’s a great opportunity to watch some of the best Para athletes in some of the most thrilling sports to watch.
TVNZ DUKE’s daily coverage schedule is as follows:
5 March, 1am-3am: Live coverage of the Opening Ceremony
5 – 13 March, 9.30-10am: Daily highlights
5 – 13 March, 10am – 2am (approx.): Live and delayed coverage of events
TVNZ DUKE is available on Freeview channel 13 and Sky channel 23. Simulcast streaming is available on TVNZ OnDemand.
Watch this space for more about our three Kiwi Para athletes as we count down to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.