Story courtesy of Disabled Wintersport Australia

The Disabled Wintersport Australia (DWA) has formally launched its new Para Nordic Skiing program, thanks to a significant Sport Australia Participation Grant. Para Nordic Skiing is a winter Paralympic sport incorporating the disciplines of Para Cross-Country (ParaXC) and Para Biathlon.

Until now there has not been a formal Para Nordic Skiing program in Australia at any level.

DWA’s long-term goal is to establish the sport of Para Nordic Skiing in Australia, both on and off snow, bringing this traditional winter sport to people with disability across five states initially.

DWA’s partners in this important initiative are Snow Australia, Paralympics Australia and Biathlon Australia, who are working closely with DWA to develop and deliver coach and guide training, and pilot programs across locations in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Wodonga, Jindabyne, Adelaide, Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Perisher Ranges.

The program is supported by World Para Nordic Skiing, with its coaching expert Mr Kaspar Wirz currently in Australia delivering coach training and providing advice and support regarding development of Para Nordic Skiing programs from participation to podium.

DWA aims to provide “Freedom on Snow” through adaptive snowsport programs and equipment, training of specialist adaptive snowsport volunteer guides and working with alpine resorts and government to improve disability access to the alpine regions in Australia.

“The opportunity to lead the establishment of a new sporting opportunity for people with disability is tremendously exciting,” says DWA CEO Jenni Cole.

“Once established, these programs will be available for people with disability year round, on and off snow.”

DWA is also working closely with veteran sport organisations such as VESPA ParaBiathlon, to ensure that this sport is also available for wounded injured and ill veterans and serving ADF members with a disability, especially leading into the Invictus Games in Canada 2025, which will include winter disciplines for the first time.

Paralympian James Millar, Australia’s only ever Paralympic level Biathlete, leads the steering group for the project, ensuring that it remains athlete and participant focussed.

“When I was starting, I came through the interschools program and had to drive everything myself. For those athletes who will come through now, it’s fantastic to see this level of structure and support, from the start, right through to the podium.”