Challenge Accepted: Paralympic Sports!

March 17, 2018

Hey Kids! This is a brand new section of Xyza called, “Challenge Accepted!” What’s this section all about? We’re sharing some pretty interesting news about the world and we thought it’d be fun for you to challenge your parents on their knowledge of world news.

Your latest challenge? The six big sports of the Winter Paralympic Games! Para-athletes are continuing to wow the crowds in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Athletes continue to show amazing athleticism and sportsmanship in alpine skiing, the biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, snowboarding, and wheelchair curling. Learn a little more about each of these sports and then challenge your parents on their knowledge of the Paralympics!

Alpine Skiing: Alpine skiing consists of six disciplines—including team events, downhill, and super-G—and the principle remains the same: Athletes use strength and agility to race down the slopes at speeds of around one hundred kilometers an hour (that’s more than sixty miles an hour!).

Interesting fact: Skiers with visual impairment are aided by sighted guides who use body signals to indicate where the course is.

Biathlon: The biathlon involves both skiing and shooting and relies on physical endurance and aiming ability.

Interesting fact: The biathlon used to include only those with physical impairments but later permitted those with visual impairments to compete as well.

Cross-Country Skiing: As with the Winter Olympics, cross-country skiing involves skiing distances … but with a slight modification—depending on their disabilities, athletes can use a sit-ski, which is a chair connected to skis.

Interesting fact: Brian McKeever, the Canadian favorite in cross-country skiing, started skiing at age three but lost his vision as a teenager. In the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, he fell but managed to get back on track and win the gold medal!

Ice Hockey: Ice hockey is a mixed-team tournament in which women play alongside men. This is one of the more popular Paralympic sports given its fast-paced nature.

Interesting fact: Para ice hockey started as a way to help patients recover from physical disabilities. It was added to the Paralympics only in 1994! Players sit in specially designed sledges that have two hockey skate blades.

Snowboarding: As with skiing, snowboarding has different disciplines (two, to be exact), and each athlete picks the best score of three runs.

Interesting fact: Snowboarding is the most recent addition to the Winter Paralympics and just debuted in 2014!

Wheelchair Curling: Wheelchair curling is very similar to curling in the Winter Olympics, where a stone is pushed toward a central spot while team leaders give verbal cues to help teammates. The key difference is that the stones are pushed from a stationary wheelchair.

Interesting fact: Wheelchair curling is the second sport in the Paralympics that allows men and women to compete together!

And for kicks, ask your parents which country won the most medals in this year’s Paralympics. As of March 16th, here are the top five:

1) The United States: 31
2) Canada: 21
3) Neutral Paralympic Athletes: 20
3) Ukraine: 20
4) France: 16
5) Germany: 15