2010 Paralympics in Vancouver

Paralympics are elite sports events for athletes with disabilities. The competitions have grown from 400 athletes from 23 countries in Rome in 1960 to almost 1,400 athletes from 40+ countries at this year’s games in Vancouver. The games are always held in the same year and at the same location as the Olympics.

This year’s Paralympics is nine days — March 12 through March 21 — of exciting, competitive sport. The theme of the Opening Ceremony was “One Inspires Many,” and the cheers were deafening. Nearly 5,000 performers — mostly volunteers — participated in the show.
The most popular Paralympic events are the gold medal match for Ice Sledge Hockey, the Opening and Closing Ceremony, the Wheelchair Curling final, and the first day of the Men and Women’s Downhill in Alpine Skiing.

Ice sledge hockey is the Paralympic version of ice hockey. Since its debut in the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Paralympics, it has become a spectator favorite: fast-paced and very physical. The athletes have a physical disabilitiy in the lower part of the body. So instead of skates, they use two-blade sledges that let the puck pass beneath. The game is played with two sticks, which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting. The semi-finals are being played now, athletes will compete for the bronze on March 19 and someone will win the gold on the 20th.

In wheelchair curling, the athletes slide granite donuts down a sheet of ice toward a circular target, trying to get closer to the center than their opponents. The “donuts” weigh more than 40 pounds and the target is 40 yards away. The curlers will be in the rink March 20 for four final deciding matches: two semi-finals, followed by one match for the gold and silver medals, and one for the bronze.

The 2010 Winter Games may be the most accessible Games ever held. Vancouver is already one of the world’s most accessible cities, and the planners of the 2010 Paralympic Games have worked hard to ensure barrier-free access for persons with disabilities at all venues and facilities.
The Paralympics will be held in London in 2012 and in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

The Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games are broadcast on www.ParalympicSport.TV. You can also become a fan on Facebook. If you are a member, simply log in and type “www.facebook.com/ParalymicSport.TV” and click the “Become a Fan” button at the top of the page.