Paralympics 2018: 10 potential highlights at the Winter Games

first_img1) Mike SchultzNot only is Mike Schultz the world’s top-ranked snowboard-cross and banked slalom boarder, he competes using prosthetics that he designed and manufactures in a workshop behind his house in St Cloud, Minnesota. His hi-tech creations will also be used by some 30 other athletes at the Games including the reigning world and overall World Cup snowboard champion Brenna Huckaby, whose prosthetic leg is purple to match her trademark dyed hair.2) Familiar foesCanada are the reigning World Champions, the US are reigning double Paralympic champions, and the two are expected to contest the top two medals in the para ice hockey – formerly known as ice sledge hockey but renamed and rebranded in 2016. Between them they have won the last four Paralympic golds, but have never met in the final. They did just that at the last year’s World Championships, Canada prevailing 4-1. 3) Marie Bochet winning stuffIt will be hard to miss the alpine skier Marie Bochet: not only is she carrying the French flag at the opening ceremony she is competing in five events and is favourite to win all of them. In Sochi she only completed four, but won all of them and was named best female athlete of the Games. “I want to win everything, all the time,” she says.4) British people winning stuffParalympicsGB want to bring seven medals back from Pyeongchang, which would make it the nation’s most successful winter Paralympics for more than 30 years. The visually impaired skier Millie Knight, who aged 15 became Britain’s youngest ever winter Paralympian in 2014, won a gold and four silvers at last year’s World Championships and with her guide, Brett Wild – on a break from his day job on a Royal Navy submarine – is considered the country’s best bet for glory.5) Home successSouth Korea have never won a Winter Paralympic gold medal but aim to scoop at least one – plus a silver and two bronzes – this time. Nordic skier Eui Hyun Sin and alpine skier Jae Rim Yang are considered the most likely of their 36 representatives to top a podium. “I will collect a gold medal and open a new page for South Korea’s history of disabled sports,” promised Sin, who lost his legs in a car accident in 2006. Read more Twitter ‘They’ll think I’m a traitor’: North Korean defector makes Winter Paralympics debut Reuse this content 6) North Korea’s presenceFor the first time North Korea will be represented at a Winter Paralympics, having sent two competing athletes – Kim Jong Hyon and Ma Yu Chol, both sit-skiers – plus four observer athletes and 18 coaches and functionaries. Unlike in the main Winter Olympics, however, they will not march with their southern neighbours in the opening ceremony, because officials failed to agree on the design of a single flag for them to carry.7) Fewer RussiansIn Sochi four years ago Russia didn’t so much top the medal table as establish their own in a different neighbourhood to everyone else’s, winning more golds than the five next most successful nations put together, 30 in total. This time there will be 30 Russians in total, down from 69 last time, all of whom have passed at least two anti-doping tests in the last six months, and they will be competing as Neutral Paralympic Athletes rather than under their own, currently frowned-upon, flag.8) Real snowNot a lot of actual snowing happened during the Winter Olympics, when in excess of 90% of all snow on the tracks and slopes was machine-made. But in the 24 hours from Wednesday morning this week more than 20cm fell on Pyeongchang, and instead of hiring machines to produce it, seven excavators, eight dump trucks and 200 people were enlisted to take it away. Forecasts, however, suggest it will soon get worryingly warm. Pinterest Read more Winter Paralympics 2018 The delegation and team from North Korea arrive at The Paralympic Village. Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters Share on Facebook Share via Email ParalympicsGB Share on Twitter 9) BearsThe official mascot, Bandabi, is an Asiatic black bear. “Bears are strong, courageous and determined creatures who make the most of their surroundings,” glowed Sir Philip Craven, the former IPC president, and as an added bonus “are also seen as friendly and cuddly”. There will be several Bandabis patrolling the Paralympic venues – when organisers appealed for volunteers to fill the 24 suits more than 7,000 people applied.10) Clare BaldingFresh from helming the BBC’s much-criticised coverage of the Winter Olympics, Clare Balding returns to host the Paralympics, live from Channel 4’s specially-constructed studio in, er, Hemel Hempstead. More than 60% of the channel’s presenting team are disabled, including three summer Paralympic champions and two winter Paralympic medalists, and the station will put out “about 100 hours” of related programming. Winter Paralympics: meet the Britons going for gold in Pyeongchang Topics Disability and sport features Facebook Share on Pinterest Share on Messenger Support The Guardian Since you’re here… Share on LinkedIn … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. 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