World Para-Ski Championships from March 7 to 11, 2017
The World’s Best Para-Skiers Battle it out in Sankt Johann im Pongau with Parachutes and Skis for the World Championship Titles
Austrians on Course for a Medal
From March 7 to 11, 2017, 65 athletes from 8 nations will be skiing and freefalling for the World Championship title in Austria. Para-skiing, a sport that combines ski racing with target parachuting, has established itself internationally since the 1950s as a wintertime skydiving discipline. Accompanied by an extensive side-program, the World Championship – which Austria hosts for the seventh time – also promises all kinds of attractive distractions for the many spectators. Aside from many international teams, HSV Red Bull Salzburg is a major contender for the highly coveted 2017 titles in the individual and team competitions.
In 2017, the best athletes of the Austrian and international para-ski community will compete for the World Champion titles in St. Johann/Alpendorf, Salzburg County, Austria. From March 7 to 11, 2017, the international elite of target skydivers will combine their discipline with the sport of skiing. 65 athletes from 8 nations will join in the event.
After winning gold in the World Cup team ranking (Sebastian Graser, Manuel Sulzbacher, Magdalena Schwertl, Anton Gruber, Michael Egger and Marina Kücher), gold in the men’s and junior’s rankings (Sebastian Graser), silver in the men’s ranking and gold in the master’s ranking (Anton Gruber), silver in the junior’s ranking (Manuel Sulzbacher) as well as silver (Magdalena Schwertl) and bronze (Julia Schosser) in the ladies’ ranking, the HSV Red Bull Salzburg team is the hottest contender for medals in all categories at their home event in Sankt Johann/Alpendorf.
After successfully hosting six Para-Ski World Cup events in recent years, the team now faces the new challenge of organizing a World Championship. The clear goal for HSV Red Bull Salzburg, in cooperation with Alpendorf Bergbahnen AG, St. Johann/Alpendorf Tourist Office, Sankt Veit Ski Club and the Borough of St. Johann im Pongau, is to stage an event that is worthy of a World Championship, both in terms of sporting standards as well as organizational demands, and above all to introduce this relatively little-known sport to a wider public.
Tuesday, March 7:
- 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Pre-Event Training
Wednesday, March 8:
- 11:00 am Start Qualification Round (Sonntagskogel)
- 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm Parachuting
- 5:00 pm Opening Ceremony (Concert, Parachute Jump, etc.)
Thursday, March 9:
- 11:00 am Giant Slalom, 1st run (Sonntagskogel)
- Afterwards: Giant Slalom, 2nd run
Friday, March 10:
- 09:00 am – 4:00 pm Parachuting
Saturday, March 11:
- 09:00 am Parachuting
- 05:00 pm Programme Closing Ceremony (Concert, Air Show)
- 06:00 pm Closing Ceremony
The discipline known as para-skiing combines Para (derived from “parachute”) and Alpine Giant Slalom (skiing). Competitors must complete a FIS-certified ski race composed of two runs as quickly as they can, and make six parachute jumps as accurately as possible. The jump is scored based on penalty points, which are accumulated the further the jumpers land from the 2 cm-wide target, with each centimeter away from the marker penalized one point. The time for the giant slalom is also converted into points, with the winner’s time being the benchmark: The winner from the giant slalom has zero penalty points, while the times of those finishing slower are penalized one point for every ca. 0.3 second later they come in. In other words, 1 second equates to 3 points. These points correspond to the distance from the freefall target in cm (1 cm = one point). Combined with the time from the ski race, this will then produce the final result.
Para-skiing as a competitive sport originated with the Austrian Air-Rescue Service. There, pilots and freefall jumpers were trained for rescue responses to mountaineering accidents, avalanches and flood catastrophes. For wintertime search & rescue operations in alpine terrain, equipment was first jettisoned from fixed-wing aircraft, then the rescue personnel were airdropped in. Being able to land accurately as well as expert skiing skills were both vital for the rescuers. Since rescue deployments were relatively rare though, aside from regular training exercises there soon developed international friendly competitions, then a World Cup series, and finally, as of 1987, a World Championship officially sanctioned by FAI (World Air Sports Federation).