How Alpine Skiing is Scored in the Paralympics | Start Your Impossible | NowThis
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How Alpine Skiing is Scored in the Paralympics | Start Your Impossible | NowThis

January 19, 2020


All these guys are racing against each
other and nobody really looks the same In the world of Para Alpine Skiing the
fastest times get the gold, pretty simple right? What if determining the fastest time
wasn’t really simple at all. What if it was about more than just pressing a stopwatch. What if in fact, the entire
foundation for Para skiing competition actually rested on a complex
mathematical formula over three decades in the making.
What if it could reduce any number of complex situations, disabilities, and
conditions into one uniformed level playing field so the best athlete wins.
It’s real. It’s called the factor system and it’s spectacular but before we tell
you about that we need to explain the classification system. I am an LW6/8-2.
I am classified as an LW9-2. And my classification is LW9-1. My
classification is LW11. Not every athlete that competes in Para skiing
has the same disability. That’s why they’re all assigned different classes.
For starters Para alpine skiing is broken down into three categories:
sitting, standing, and visually impaired. Then each of those categories are broken
down again into multiple sport classes to account for a wide range of types and
severity of disability. The classification system I guess makes
Para sport more possible. Without it, you know, we can’t really give out medals to the
best in every single disability category. Every athlete on the disabled side
has the same amount of chance and the same amount of equality and the playing
field. So you can be watching a race and a guy will come down with with just one
leg and outriggers and the next guy might have one leg and a prosthetic ski
leg in their boot and the next guy might be missing an arm from here and the next
guy might be missing both arms or have arms that don’t work as well so you all
these guys are racing against each other and nobody really looks the same. The
system is brilliant. It makes an athlete specific class relative to the rest of
the playing field. And depending on an athlete’s class the
clock moved slightly slower or slightly faster than the rest of the field. This
means on race day and athletes class is factored into their race time. People
watching at home probably don’t even notice that the clock on their TV
screens is running at varying speeds depending on which athlete is skiing but
it is. For example, somebody with a low degree of impairment can get a 100
percent factor meaning that their time one minute and 30 seconds is actually
the real time and then somebody with a higher disability factor they would get
a 68% so if they would race down in one minute this this would be the time would
be multiplied by 68% and then you get the the time so this way we can
have a competition, a fair competition for everybody.
This time factoring system is designed to ensure that at the end of the day the
best athlete wins. I think it’s a really fair way to produce our sports. The
factor system and in our sport allows all these different disabilities to
compete against each other and the factors people might say they’re not
perfect but it is what it is and you go out there and you know what you got to
do to beat your competition. The initial formula that makes it tick
dates back over three decades. It’s constantly being monitored to make sure
it’s fair and it all combines to make for one of the most unique and complex
scoring systems in the history of sports. It’s not ordinary, but then again nothing
about Para sports is.

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