7 things to look out for at the 2018 Winter Paralympics
From the US and Canadian ice hockey rivalry to Marie Bochet’s dominance for France and Millie Knight’s potential for Team GB, 10 potential highlights from Pyeongchang
1) Familiar foes
Canada are the reigning World Champions, the US are reigning double Paralympic champions, and the two are expected to contest the top two medals in the para ice hockey – formerly known as ice sledge hockey but renamed and rebranded in 2016. Between them they have won the last four Paralympic golds, but have never met in the final. They did just that at the last year’s World Championships, Canada prevailing 4-1.
2) British people winning stuff
Team GB want to bring seven medals back from Pyeongchang, which would make it the nation’s most successful winter Paralympics for more than 30 years. The visually impaired skier Millie Knight, who aged 15 became Britain’s youngest ever winter Paralympian in 2014, won a gold and four silvers at last year’s World Championships and with her guide, Brett Wild – on a break from his day job on a Royal Navy submarine – is considered the country’s best bet for glory.
3) Mike Schultz
Not only is Mike Schultz the world’s top-ranked snowboard-cross and banked slalom boarder, he competes using prosthetics that he designed and manufactures in a workshop behind his house in St Cloud, Minnesota. His hi-tech creations will also be used by some 30 other athletes at the Games including the reigning world and overall World Cup snowboard champion Brenna Huckaby, whose prosthetic leg is purple to match her trademark dyed hair.
4) Marie Bochet winning stuff
It will be hard to miss the alpine skier Marie Bochet: not only is she carrying the French flag at the opening ceremony she is competing in five events and is favourite to win all of them. In Sochi she only completed four, but won all of them and was named best female athlete of the Games. “I want to win everything, all the time,” she says.
5) Fewer Russians
In Sochi four years ago Russia didn’t so much top the medal table as establish their own in a different neighbourhood to everyone else’s, winning more golds than the five next most successful nations put together, 30 in total. This time there will be 30 Russians in total, down from 69 last time, all of whom have passed at least two anti-doping tests in the last six months, and they will be competing as Neutral Paralympic Athletes rather than under their own, currently frowned-upon, flag.
6) North Korea’s presence
For the first time North Korea will be represented at a Winter Paralympics, having sent two competing athletes – Kim Jong Hyon and Ma Yu Chol, both sit-skiers – plus four observer athletes and 18 coaches and functionaries. Unlike in the main Winter Olympics, however, they will not march with their southern neighbours in the opening ceremony, because officials failed to agree on the design of a single flag for them to carry.
7) Clare Balding
Fresh from helming the BBC’s