Winter Sports 

Winter Sports involve moving in fresh air, on high mountains, in wide slopes, in deep snow and on the ice – normally not possible in wheelchair, enjoyable with adaptive equipment together with family and friends!

CP Skiers at Austria Ski Camp

Introduction to Winter Sports

Since the early 1960’s, people with Cerebral Palsy (CP) have been able to learn to ski for both therapeutic and recreational reasons in Alpine and Nordic styles. Skiing provides people with CP with a wonderful opportunity to move over snow and to develop new balance and new movements. Since special sit skis like Bi-Skis, Dual-Skis, Kart-Skis became developed, skiing is also possible for athletes with severe disabilities. In recent years, new sports like Snowboarding and Ice Sledge Hockey became very popular for people with CP.

In the last few years, athletes with CP have made their way into competition both at national and international level with the help of their national sports organizations for the disabled or national ski federations. Therefore, the CP-Classification got integrated in the IPC-Classification-System for Winter Sports.

Different offers of winter sports for people with CP is also possible on a recreational and competitive level! Alpine Skiing (sitting and standing), Nordic Skiing (sitting and standing), Snowboarding (standing), Ice Sledge Racing (sitting), Curling and Ice Hockey are the most popular winter sports on a recreational level. Elite sports athletes in Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding were and are very successful. In Nordic Skiing, Sledge Hockey and Curling athletes with CP also can compete.  

Eligibility for Alpine Skiing

Standing events

For CP-Classes C5-C8 (diplegia, hemiplegia, athetosis, ataxia), the following classification criteria is necessary:

  • Walking without help on the bottom and up and downstairs
  • Standing on one leg right and left
  • Standing up from the ground without help

Sitting events

Depending on the level of disability two opportunities are available:

For individuals with Diplegia (C4-C5) with functional upper limbs, good trunk control and good co-ordination, they can use Dual-Ski or Mono-Ski. Sometimes it’s recommended to start in the Bi-Ski instead of the Mono-Ski due to individuals’ possible coordination problems. Preconditions for using Mono-Ski:

  • good trunk control
  • functional upper limbs
  • grip function of the hands
  • flexibility in hip- and knee joints
  • transferring from the wheelchair into the Mono-Ski

The Dual-Ski is similar to a Mono-Ski, but with two skis. It’s recommended for individuals with balance problems.

For individuals classed as a C1-C3 (Triplegia and Tetraplegia), they can use a Bi-Ski. This sit ski model is usable for individuals with very severe Cerebral Palsy and can be used with one, two, or without outriggers. For beginners in sit skiing, an assistant with good skiing performance and safe flexibility in alpine terrain is necessary. Characteristic for Bi-Ski are two short carving skis, flexible fixed on the sitting plate. This flexibility allows carving only by small movements with the upper body sideward. For safety reasons and balance supporting side outriggers can be fixed. Therefore the Bi-Ski is ideal for children, who are too small for the Mono-Ski, for Tetraplegia, for people who could not use outriggers, and all people who’s disability do not allow using Mono-Skis.

Eligibility for Nordic Skiing


  • For all standing disabilities (including diplegia, hemiplegia, athetosis, ataxia).
  • Sometimes special equipment could be necessary.


  • For CP-Athletes who are not able to use standing equipment.
  • No restrictions, but push up with poles should be possible.
Eligibility for Snowboarding

Snowboarding became part of Paralympics in Sochi 2014! Slalom and cross events are possible for athletes with physical impairments. Snowboarding is possible for CP standing athletes with diplegia, hemiplegia, athetosis and ataxia. Sometimes Snowboarding could be easier than Alpine Skiing. Small modifications on the boards or assistive devices could be necessary.

Eligibility for Ice Sledge Hockey (Para Ice Hockey)

Sledge Hockey is the Paralympic version of ice hockey and, since its debut in the Paralympic program in 1994, it is fast becoming one of the biggest attractions for spectators at the winter Paralympic Games. It is fast-paced, highly physical and played by athletes with a physical impairment. As in ice hockey, six players (including the goalie) from each team are on the ice at one time. Two-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass underneath replace skates, and the players use sticks with a spike-end and a blade-end.

Therefore, with a quick flip of the wrist, the players are able to propel themselves using the spikes and then play the puck using the blade-end of the sticks. A player may use two sticks with blades in order to facilitate stick handling and ambidextrous shooting. Sledge hockey games consist of three 15 minute stop-time periods.

Eligibility for Wheelchair Curling

Wheelchair Curling become developed from Ice Sledge Hockey. The Paralympic debut was in 2006 in Torino. A team consists of four players with at least one women and one athlete with a severe disability. The rules are the same like curling for able bodied, with the exception of wiping. The curling facilities must be accessible and a special surface is needed.

Alpine Skiing Classification

Alpine Skiing Classification 

Class LW1

CP5 – Severe diplegic involvement in both legs

CP6 – Athletes with athetotic or ataxic impairment of movements in all four limbs

Class LW3/2

CP 5 – moderate to slight diplegic involvement in both legs (with sticks)

CP 6 – moderate athetoid or atactic impairment

Class LW9/1

CP7 – athletes with severe hemiplegia with disabilities in one leg and one arm, diagonal or

on the same side

Class LW9/2

CP7 – Athletes with minimal or moderate to slight hemiplegia with disabilities in one leg and one arm, diagonal or on the same side

CP8 – minimal involvement at all four limbs

Class LW10

Cerebral Palsy with disabilities in all four limbs

Class LW11

Cerebral palsy with disabilities in lower extremities

Nordic Skiing Classification

Nordic Skiing Classification 

Class LW3

CP5 – Diplegic involvement in both legs

CP6 – Athletes with athetotic or ataxic impairment of movements in all four limbs

Class LW4

CP 5 – very mild diplegia

CP 8 – very mild monoplegia

 Class LW6/8

CP8 – Monoplegic involvement of one arm

Class LW9

CP – Disorders affecting at least one leg and one arm, i.e., CP 7, severe CP5 and CP 6

Class LW10

Cerebral Palsy with disabilities in all four limbs

Class LW11

Cerebral palsy with disabilities in both legs

Ice Sledge Hockey Classification

Ice Sledge Hockey Classification 

The minimal disability for CP is corresponding to Class 7. Normal upper body function is required.

Competitive Opportunities

Competitive Opportunities

The majority of people with CP take part in skiing for recreation and fun. Athletes who want to take part in competitions do so through the support of their national sports organization for the disabled. There are different opportunities in each country, and in some countries athletes with CP are well included in national teams and can participate in events such as the Paralympic Games and World Championships which include the following disciplines:

Participation in competition is possible in

  • Para Alpine Skiing: Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G, Super Combined, Team Event
  • Para Nordic Skiing: all distances ranging from 2.5 to 20 km, Relays and Biathlon
  • Para Snowboard: Snowboard-Cross, Banked Slalom, Giant Slalom
  • Para Ice Hockey
  • Wheelchair Curling
General Information

In General

In principle, always pay attention that skiers with CP never skis as good as it looks, that means that in doubt cases they have to be classified in a lower class. When classifying individuals with  CP, there are many difficulties and you must not forget:

  • Spontaneous weariness
  • More spasticity because of coldness
  • Troubles of co-ordination, which can’t get measured


In Alpine Skiing the special attention is given to the disabilities on the legs, but in Nordic skiing you have to consider also disabilities in the arms.