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Inroads for Athletes with Disabilities: Adaptive Winter Games

10 Feb, 2016

By: Tracey Schelmetic
'Unprecedented' Number of New Entrants Proves Appeal to Athletes

When New York’s Empire State Winter Games (ESWG) kicked off in Lake Placid, it brought the usual suspects, including alpine skiing and snowboarding, Nordic skiing, bobsled, figure and speed skating, luge and more. But for the first time, the Games included adaptive winter sports events, most notably adaptive Nordic and alpine skiing as well as sled hockey.

“The participation of up to 75 adaptive athletes in the ESWG from throughout the region, the country and Canada is exciting and unprecedented,” said Howard Horowitz, adaptive events organizer. “A record number of veterans participated in Nordic events at Mount Van Hoevenberg and the sled hockey teams from around the region and Canada brought excitement and speed to the ice in Saranac Lake.”

This year’s ESWG offered adaptive alpine skiing, adaptive biathlon, adaptive cross-country and ski cross, adaptive hockey (“sled hockey”) and adaptive snowboard cross in addition to a full roster of non-adaptive winter sports. The various events were held in multiple venues in the region, including Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Paul Smiths and Malone.

Sled hockey became an official event in 1994 for the beginning of the Paralympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The sport made its debut at the ESWG in 2014 as a demonstration sport. In addition, the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team trained and raced in sanctioned slalom, giant slalom and super G events at Whiteface Mountain. Adaptive biathlon will also be offered.

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