By Greg Miller
November 24, 2008
Snowboarding and the Deaflympics
I have been snowboarding off and on for about 12 years now and it has
become a big passion in my life. I drive up the mountain to Lake Tahoe an
average of about 20-25 times per season, and because of this, winter has
become my favorite season. The Deaflympics, similar to the Olympics, is
divided into two categories, summer and winter sports. “The Summer and
Winter Deaflympics are among the world’s oldest and fastest growing sports
events. They offer competition at the highest level. But they are also about
building your skills, friendships, networks and pride in the worldwide deaf
community” (www.deaflympics.com). The Deaflympic summer sports include
twenty disciplines in Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball,
Bowling, Cycling Road, Football, Handball, Judo, Karate, Orienteering,
Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Volleyball, Water Polo,
Wrestling Freestyle, and Wrestling Greco-Roman. The winter sports include
five disciplines; Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Curling, Ice Hockey,
and last but certainly not least, Snowboarding.
The very first Deaflypics, then known as The Silent Games, was held in Paris
in 1924. However, the first winter Deaflympics wasn’t held until 25 years
later in 1949. The most recent winter Deaflympics was in Salt Lake City from
February 1-10, 2007. The U.S. won 3 gold metals, 4 silver metals, and 5
bronze metals http://2007.usdeafsports.org/usmedalist.htm. In the snowboard
events, the U.S. team won 1 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze metals. According
to http://www.sndc.nl/index.php?pid=4, High Tatras, Slovakia, will host the
17th Winter Deaflympics in February 2011.
There are currently three Snowboarding events at the Deaflympics, which are
Parallel Giant Slalom, Snowboard Cross, and Half Pipe. In Parallel Giant
Slalom, two snowboarders at a time go head to head in a race down the
mountain on separate courses that contain about 25 “gates” that the
competitors must navigate through. These triangular shaped “gates” are
placed alternately on the left and right as you move down the hill.
Snowboarder Cross is a brand new event for the Deaflymics and involves four
snowboarders at a time to race down the same course containing moguls
(roundish bumps in the snow), jumps, and sharp turns. Because of these
obstacles that the competitors must attempt to overcome, crashes occur quite
often. The course is approximately 500-900 meters long and it takes an
average of 40-70 seconds to complete the race traveling down a 14-18%
gradient. The first to cross the finish line wins the heat and moves on.
Finally, Half Pipe is the only Snowboard event that is not a race to the
end. Instead, competitors perform on a half-cylinder track for judges and
the crowd. Technical moves are judged from a range of scores from one to
ten, to determine the winner of the event. Some of these “technical moves”
include board grabs, 360’s, and McTwist’s.
Snowboarding can be enjoyed by all. Whether you’re deaf or hearing, nothing
compares to the feeling you get when you’re surrounded by nature, everything
around you is calm and silent, you’re alone with your thoughts, and you can
maneuver your way down a mountain with only a snowboard strapped to your
feet. There are not many things in my life that compare to the feeling I get
from snowboarding, and if you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend
it. Go to your local shop, rent a board and some boots, throw together a
cold weather outfit, and get up to the mountain as soon as possible.
(2008). Deaflympics International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (CISS).
Retrieved 21, November, 2008. www.deaflympics.com
(2008). Stichting Nederlands Deaflypics Comité. Retrieved 24, November 2008.
(2008). U.S. Team 16th Winter Deaflympics Salt Lake City 2007 USA Deaf
Sports Federation Retrieved 24, November, 2008.