10 Things We Should All Know About The Paralympic Winter Games

They’re pretty incredible. Learn everything about these impressive athletes and their sports, and join United in cheering on Team USA Paralympians on March 7.

1. The name “Paralympics” was chosen because it means “parallel to Olympics.”

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Although many people associate the “para” with “paraplegic,” that’s not the intention. In the Winter Games, there are 10 different impairment types for eligibility.

2. The Paralympics were originally created for WWII veterans with spinal cord injuries. The veteran spirit remains alive at today’s Games.

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More than half of the members of the U.S. Cross-Country ski team are veterans.

3. The first Winter Games arrived in 1976, nearly 30 years after the first Summer Games.

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Held in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, the first Games consisted of two skiing events, as compared to today’s five-sport competition.

4. Sled hockey is played with two sticks.

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On one end are picks used to leverage motion, and the hockey part is on the other.

5. And sleds are elevated so the puck can pass underneath — even for goalies.

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Otherwise, the sport follows standard, able-bodied ice hockey rules.

6. Paralympic curlers don’t sweep.

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In fact, wheelchair curling is considered to be more technically challenging than its Olympic equivalent.

7. Visually impaired skiers compete by following guides.

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Athletes and their guides form intense bonds during training and rely on each other for success. If the athlete medals, so does the guide.

8. And visually impaired athletes are able to compete in the biathalon with a modified target.

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And although a U.S. Olympian has never brought home a medal in biathalon, a U.S. Paralympian has.

9. In 2012, the IOC and the IPC declared that all Olympic host cities would also host the Paralympics.

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Even though this has been true for the Winter Games since 1992.

10. Most notably, the athletes have incredible stories.

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Paralympian Ralph Green lost his leg from a random street shooting when he was 16 years old. After high school, he discovered his incredible talent on the slopes and eventually became the first African-American to make the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team.

Learn more about Ralph Green’s story, and be sure to watch the Paralympics from March 7-16.

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