“I always say snowboarding saved my life.” Amy Purdy lost both her legs when she contracted severe meningitis aged 19. Now 34-years-old, Amy will be representing the USA in the first ever Winter Paralympics snowboard competition. ”It gave me a reason to focus on the future, it gave me something to be passionate about,” she told the Huffington Post in a recent interview.
It’s the first time snowboarding has been introduced to the Winter Paralympics. 45 athletes from 20 countries will compete in the para snowboard cross – a boardercross competition for athletes with lower-limb impairments – this Friday 14 March.
I always say snowboarding saved my life
Anyone who’s ever watched a boardercross competition knows exactly how gnarly it is. Riders hoon it round berms and over monster kickers at 50kph with no let-up until the finish line. You only have to look at the men’s boardercross final from the Olympics last month to see what we’re talking about.
It’s a huge step forward to see para snowboarding included in the Paralympics and we’re stoked to see these inspirational riders taking snowboarding to an amazing new level.
Check out the video above to find out more about the format and preparation behind the inaugural event!
So how does it work?
The only snowboarding event in the Paralympics is currently the para snowboard cross events. There’s two medals up for grabs – one for men and one for women. Each athlete gets three runs down the boardercross course. The combined time from both runs decides their score and the overall winner.
CAN ALL DISABLED ATHLETES COMPETE?
Only riders with lower-limb impairments are currently allowed to compete in the Paralympic para snowboard cross. Riders wear prosthetic legs and knees when they ride. New Zealand rider Carl Murphy has a specially made carbon fibre and titanium foot that he wears inside a regular snowboarding boot to ride. He can adjust the air pressure for different styles of riding.
Who is competing?
33 men and 12 women from 20 countries will take part in the para snowboard cross event. Sadly, Britain’s top para snowboarders Benjamin Moore and Robert Barrett aren’t competing but you can see the full list of athletes here under the Alpine Skiing schedule.
Where can I watch it?
It all kicks off on Friday 14 March at 6am with the first women’s run. You can watch it live on Channel Four here.
Find out more about para snowboarding in the UK on the Disability Snowsports website.