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The Ultimate Guide To The Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Winter Games are as exciting as ever this year! There is always mobility for all when you #StartYourImpossible with Toyota.

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This year, the 2018 Paralympics features six sports and 80 medals that will be contested by around 650 competing athletes. It’s time to learn things you never knew about each sport!

1. Para Alpine Skiing

Just like the Olympic Winter Games, men’s and women’s Paralympic alpine skiing events include downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super combined, and super G. Within each of these events there are classifications for vision impaired, sitting, and standing athletes.

Athletes in the sitting category use outriggers, which are poles adapted for Paralympic athletes to maintain balance and control while soaring at speeds up to 100 km/h for the downhill ski event. Vision-impaired athletes (who range from totally blind to partially sighted) race with a sighted guide in front of them. They communicate via bluetooth headsets with microphones in their helmets, and the guide’s main job is to give commands and reminders to the skier. Talk about #teamwork.

2. Para Biathlon

This sport, which is a combination of cross-country skiing and target shooting, is also divided into visually impaired, sitting, and standing classifications. Visually impaired athletes shoot a laser beam at the target and use Eko rifles (as opposed to small-bore rifles), which are computerized guns that guide athletes using sound to determine their aim. They must lie on their stomachs (which is called the “prone position”) and grab the guns, which are waiting for them and pointing in the general direction of the targets.

3. Para Cross-Country Skiing

Skiers are categorized into sitting, standing, and vision-impaired classifications. There are strict rules in place to make sure the competition is fair in order to focus on the main challenges of cross-country skiing — endurance, power, and mental determination. Just like alpine skiing, vision-impaired athletes compete with a guide directing them. Distance for these events ranges from 2.5km to 20km.

4. Para Ice Hockey

The six-person teams compete on regulation, Olympic-sized rinks while following the same rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation. However, Paralympic athletes play on double-blade sleds that allow the puck to pass through. They use two sticks that have both a spike end (for pushing) and a blade end (for shooting.) Debuting at the ‘94 games, ice hockey was a men’s-only event until 2010, when it became a co-ed sport.

5. Para Snowboarding

Paralympic snowboarders compete in banked slalom and snowboard cross events. Riders are categorized into three different classes: two for those with leg impairments and one for those with arm impairments. Banked slalom occurs on a medium-pitch, natural terrain slope, where the snowboarder weaves between gates. Snowboard cross consists of two events: head-to-head and time trial.

6. Para Wheelchair Curling

Curlers compete on mixed-gender teams and follow the same rules of the World Curling Federation. The only modification here from Olympic curling is that there’s no sweeping involved. Players who don’t use wheelchairs in their day-to-day lives but have lower-body impairments also compete in this challenging sport.

Animation by Kirun Kunju © BuzzFeed 2018

At the Paralympics, nothing is impossible when you set your mind to it. #StartYourImpossible with Toyota, a mobility company for all.