Winter Paralympic Sports for Athletes with Cerebral Palsy

Logo of the International Paralympics
International Paralympic Logo

The 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympic Games offer a great opportunity to highlight adaptive recreational and competitive winter sports for individuals with cerebral palsy.

The Winter Paralympic Games are held every four years, ten days after the Olympic Games, and with cerebral palsy athletes competing in a variety of these sports. The 2022 games will be the 13th Winter Paralympic Games, taking place between March 4th and March 13th, 2022 in Beijing, China.

The Winter Paralympic Games are divided into two disciplines: 

  • Snow Sports: Consisting of Para Alpine Skiing, Para Nordic Skiing (Cross Country and Biathlon), and Para Snowboarding
  • Ice sports: Consisting of Para Ice Sledge Hockey and Wheelchair Curling

In total there are athletes with a variety of disabilities competing in 78 events across these sports. All of these athletes, whether they have cerebral palsy or another disability, began as a recreational athlete and progressed in their sport to the world stage.

Check out the sports we have highlighted here and if something sparks an interest, look for opportunities in your community and with your local adaptive sports organization to participate. 

Join us in cheering on all the athletes competing in the Beijing Paralympic Games!

Snow Sports
Young person wearing a red and white parka with blue pants and a black helmet snowboarding

Para Alpine Skiing: Para Alpine Skiing is one of the foundational sports of the Winter Paralympics and appeared in the very first Winter Paralympic Games. Para Alpine Skiing pioneered adaptive winter sports and has evolved to be inclusive of athletes of all types of disabilities and physical capabilities. The sport features downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-g, super combined and team. Depending on functional impairment, athletes compete using equipment designed to meet their needs. A competitor may use a sit-ski, a chair equipped with a pair of skis, or a single ski, or other orthopedic aids.

Learn More About Alpine Skiing:

Featured Cerebral Palsy Paralympic Alpine Skiing Athletes:

Andrew Haraghey -

Conner Hogan -

Ian Jansing -

Spencer Wood -

Para Nordic Skiing: Para Nordic Skiing is the umbrella name for the the sports of Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon. Athletes compete in short, medium and long distance races and in the relay.

Biathlon was introduced to the Winter Paralympics in 1988 for individuals with physical disabilities and then in 1992 included individuals with visual impairment. Just as with traditional biathlon, this event combines the two disciplines of cross country skiing (endurance) and target shooting (accuracy). Individuals may be compete in ambulatory classes or seated on a sit-ski. Athletes should have some ability to push with poles.

Cross-Country Skiing first appeared in the Winter Paralympics in 1976 and is open to individuals with cerebral palsy across most physical ability levels. There are two classes, standing and seated. For seated athletes, the individual may use a sit-ski. Athletes should have some ability to push with poles.

Learn More About Nordic Skiing:

Para Snow Boarding: Para Snowboarding made its debut in the Winter Paralympics in 2014. This exciting sport features two disciplines with multiple race brackets. Athletes compete in snowboard-cross and banked slalom. Athletes use snowboards and orthopedic aids to suit their needs.

Learn More about Para Snow Boarding:

Cerebral Palsy Para Snowboarding Athlete:

Zach Miller -

Ice Sports
Photo of a young girl with dark hair wearing a red shirt holding a trophy on a sled on the ice rink

Ice Sledge Hockey: The Paralympic version of ice hockey, this fast paced, highly physical sport is for athletes with physical impairment primarily to their lower extremities (diplegic individuals). Instead of skates, athletes are seated on sleds and use sticks with dual ends, a spike-end and a blade-end, to maneuver the ice and control the puck. Much like traditional hockey, teams consist of 6 players, including the goalie. Ice Sledge Hockey made its Paralympic debut in 1994.

Wheelchair Curling: Wheelchair Curling made its Paralympic debut in 2006 and is governed by the World Curling Federation. The sport is for non-ambulatory athletes and those who only walk short distances and primarily use a wheelchair for mobility. The sport is an adaptation of traditional curling played with the same rocks, though thrown from a stationary wheelchair and without the use of sweeping.

Fun fact: the Chinese Paralympic Curling Team won gold in 2018. They are the ones to beat on their home turf in 2022!

Learn More about Wheelchair Curling:

Team of adaptive sled hockey players at the US olympic team trials

All of the athletes participating in the Winter Paralympics started their journey to the competitive world stage as participants in recreational adaptive sports. There are many opportunities around the country to get involved and choose which sports are the right fit for you. Remember, first and foremost, it is all about FUN! 

Cerebral Palsy Sports by Functional Ability Level

Our friends at the Cerebral Palsy International Sports & Recreation Association,, have created amazing resources to help you better understand the various Paralympic and adaptive sports suited for individuals with cerebral palsy of all abilities. In the spirit of the Olympic and the Paralympic Games, we are happy to share this information with you here!