Op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­clu­sion

Alpine Observer - - Sport - PARA-SKI­ING

BIRKEBEINER Nordic Ski Club pres­i­dent Ron­ice Go­bel hopes to raise aware­ness around para Nordic ski­ing as an op­tion for young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the Ovens and Kiewa val­leys.

Go­bel re­cently re­turned from Chun­cheon in South Korea where she at­tended a work­shop tar­get­ing coaches from para biathlon and para cross-coun­try ski­ing.

The event was or­gan­ised by the Agi­tos Foun­da­tion, the de­vel­op­ing arm of the In­ter­na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee in part­ner­ship with the Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Win­ter Games.

The aim of the project is to build ca­pac­ity in Par­a­lympic sport around the world.

“My in­ter­est in go­ing to the course came from know­ing that Dis­abled Win­ter­sports Aus­tralia run pro­grams in Alpine ski­ing at Falls Creek, and in think­ing into the fu­ture, we have the po­ten­tial and ca­pac­ity to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to learn cross coun­try ski­ing and/ or ath­letes to tran­si­tion from another sport,” Go­bel said.

“The work­shop was an eye opener to the world of Nordic para ski­ing and in­cluded ses­sions on tech­ni­cal­i­ties of cat­e­gories and clas­si­fi­ca­tion, equip­ment, train­ing and tal­ent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, per­for- mance and com­pe­ti­tion and how to get started.

Go­bel said a visit to the Pyeongchang Olympic and Par­a­lympic Win­ter Games venue for cross coun­try, biathlon, and ski jump­ing was a high­light.

“The work­shop opened my mind to a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties,” she said.

“In­ter­na­tion­ally, there is a net­work of pas­sion­ate and sup­port­ive peo­ple with ex­per­tise out there, and the Aus­tralian Olympic Com­mit­tee is def­i­nitely en­cour­ag­ing de­vel­op­ment at the grass roots and be­yond.

“Our ini­tial chal­lenge is to let our com­mu­ni­ties know that we can work with fam­i­lies, schools and ath­letes to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties and sup­port for those with an im­pair­ment to be in­volved in cross coun­try ski­ing.”

“Hav­ing said that, con­ver­sa­tions with Tim Matthews, the de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at the AOC, the pre­ferred model is for dis­abled ath­lete par­tic­i­pa­tion is to be in­te­grated within the struc­tures pro­vided by and for ‘able bod­ied’ sport.

“Of course, there are some lim­its to what a vol­un­teer club such as Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club can do, but it is a start to con­sider po­ten­tial op­tions and how the door can be opened for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.”

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