IPC Alpine Skiing announces new snowboard classes

By International Paralympic Committee | Oct. 27, 2014, 10:45 a.m. (ET)
Evan Strong
Evan Strong won the gold medal for the men's lower limb impairment race at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. The classification will now be split starting with the 2014-15 season. 

BONN, Germany — International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing announced on Monday that the classification for lower-limb impaired snowboarders will be split into two sport classes starting with the 2014-15 season.

There will now be one sport class for riders with a significant impairment in either one or both legs, for example an above the knee amputation, and one for the group with less activity limitation.

The changes are being introduced in time for the start of the new season, which kicks-off with World and Europa Cups in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, Nov. 19-20 and includes the 2015 IPC Para-Snowboard World Championships in La Molina, Spain, from Feb. 23-28.

The announcement follows the successful debut of para-snowboard at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and a series of developments within the sport. This includes the introduction of banked slalom and an addition to the format of cross competitions, so that riders will now race head-to-head after an initial qualification round.

The 2014-15 season will see a total of three medal events contested at all IPC Alpine Skiing para-snowboard competitions, for upper-limb impaired riders and the two new classes for athletes with lower-limb impairments.

Riders classified in the SB LL-1 sport class will have an significant impairment in one leg, for example an above knee amputation, or a significant combined impairment in two legs, for example significant muscle weakness or spasticity  in both legs. This will effect their ability to balance, control the board and absorb the terrain. Athletes with amputations will use prosthesis during the races.

Snowboarders in the SB LL-2 sport class will have an impairment in one or two legs with less activity limitation. A typical example is a below knee amputation or mild spasticity.

There will be classification opportunities for athletes in Landgraaf and in Aspen, Colorado, in January.

Around 80 athletes from 20 countries are expected to gather in La Molina for the World Championships, the biggest gathering of para-snowboarders since Sochi 2014.

At the Paralympic Winter Games, where para-snowboard made its debut on the program, Team USA won four medals. On the men's side, Evan Strong led an American sweep with Mike Shea and Keith Gabel placing second and third, respectively. Amy Purdy won a bronze on the women's side.