How I Ski

Jade Etherington | Paralympic Training | Sochi 2014

How I Ski

Alpine skiing is practised worldwide and there are six events on the Paralympic Programme: Downhill, Super-G, Super Combined, Giant Slalom, Slalom and Snowboard which will make it’s debut at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Athletes compete in one of three categories according to their disability classification visually impaired, stand ups and sits. Each classification group has a time factor a results calculation system meaning athletes with different impairments can compete against each other. Jade races in B2 category against all females.

Skiers with blindness/visual impairment are guided through the course by sighted guides using commands to indicate the course to follow.  When skiing, Jade has a guide (Caroline Powell), a racer who skis in front of her, they communicate through headsets in their helmets through a set of commands pre-determined before each race. The athlete/guide relationship is very important a great deal of trust and understanding is needed in order to be successful.  Caroline has to ski at speed whilst checking that Jade remains a close distance behind to complete the run both quickly and skillfully.  Caroline is not just important on the slope but also knows when to help Jade off the slope which makes guiding an intense environment.  The guides are not paid for their time and Jade has to cover the costs for both herself and her guide.  However when the relationship between the guide and skier is successful, the rewards can be just as great as both athlete and guide receive medals.