Alpine Skiing - Visual Impairment Category

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Event Fact: Top speeds can reach 105 km/h

Athlete Quote

Jessica Gallagher – Alpine skiing, AustraliaWe ski at speeds up to 105 km/h, which is sometimes quite a challenge for a visually impaired person. Due to my limited sight, I can only catch the gates just shortly before passing them but not any slope irregularities. Therefore, total trust is my guide is absolutely crucial.

Voice commands guide the way

In visually impaired skiing, a guide is mandatory. He is in constant communication with the athlete via a light or audio system providing immediate instructions and information on changes in the pitch, snow conditions, rhythm or combination of gates. Each team has its own system depending on the degree of vision and individual requirements, for example, “go, go, go” for speeding up or “aaaaaaaaand stop” at the end of the race.

Classification and Factor System

Athletes are categorized depending on the degree of vision defined by visual acuity and visual field, resulting in three classes. All athletes of the three classes compete in one competition. Their times are judged with a specific race factor (less vision equals a slower clock running speed.)

Classifications

  • B1 Blind: Minimal to no light sense in both eyes.
  • B2 Limited Sight: Remaining vision maximum 3.3 per cent and/or restricted visual field of less than five degrees.
  • B3 More Sight: Remaining vision maximum 10 per cent and/or restricted visual field of 5-20 degrees.