Winter sports for disabled athletes have seen a gradual increase since World War II, as injured civilians and ex-servicemen attempted to return to skiing. Some pioneers, such as the Austrian Sepp Zwichnagl, a double lower limb amputee, experimented with the use of skis with a prosthesis. Another innovation was the use of a mono-ski with stabilizers (in other words small stabilization skis fitted on ski poles, 1948). The first multi-discipline ski competitions began in the seventies. In 1974, at Grand Bornand in France, the first world championships included alpine skiing and Nordic skiing for both amputees and the visually impaired.
The first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden in 1976, with alpine skiing and Nordic skiing competitions for amputees and the visually impaired with the a luge demonstration. The success of the first Paralympic Games led to a second event being held in Geilo, Norway in 1980. Again in 1980, at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, for the first time 30 athletes on mono-skis took part in a Super-G.
In 1984, the Paralympic Winter Games took place in Austria, in Innsbruck.
In 1988, the Paralympic Winter Games were held once again in Innsbruck and not at the Olympic facilities in Calgary, in Canada, for financial reasons. A total of 397 athletes hailing from 22 countries took part in the event. Sitting skiers were introduced to both alpine and Nordic competitions.
In 1992 the Games were held in Tigne-Albertville in France. For the first time demonstrations took place for alpine and cross-country skiing for athletes with learning disabilities.
Lillehammer in 1994 saw the debut of Ice Sledge Hockey, the Paralympic version of Ice Hockey.
In 1998 the Nagano Games were the first to be held outside Europe, demonstrating an increase in media interest surrounding the Paralympics.
In 2002 the Paralympic Winter Games were held in Salt Lake City, marking the first time that the Games were held in North America.
For more information:
Adam Crockatt Manager, National Men's Teams | Responsable, équipe nationale masculine (hockey sur luge)