One of the incredible things about being a photographer is that frequently people call you up out of the blue, tell you about something absolutely amazing that's going to happen, and then ask if you'd like have a front row seat to watch said amazing thing happen. Do I want to come watch the Paralympic World Cup? Sure, that sounds awesome. Would I like a press pass so I can get down on the course? Did you even need to ask?
From the get go I was pretty excited to go watch this event, but I didn't realize how incredible it was going to be until I got there. First off, there are teams from all over the world Russia, Canada, Italy, France, Japan. It's always cool to hear coaches yelling at their athletes in different tongues. But on top of that it turned out to be hands down the most impressive show of athleticism I have ever seen.
The first event I caught was the biathalon (skiing and target shooting) for seated skiers. If you're not familiar with seated skiing Google it. It looks really hard. And not like, "oh, I'd be slower than that guy, but I could probably do it" hard. I'm talking "I couldn't do that...at all" hard. I know I'm not a body builder (I know, some of your are probably surprised to hear that...it's true), but I'm in okay shape and I don't know that I could actually propel myself this way on flat ground. Much less up hill. And there were some serious hills on this 7.5 KM course. Yeah you read that right 7 point frickin' 5 K's. Insane. So on top of skiing this difficult course you then have to stop every 2.5 KM to lay down and take 5 pretty difficult shots at a target while your heart is racing and your breathing like...well like you just pushed your self around a 2.5KM course with just your arms. And a bunch of the athletes had perfect shooting records for the day. So with out rambling, let me just say I was pretty much blown away.
Then came the division for skiers with a visual impairment. And remember that this is a course with some pretty big ups and some pretty big downs. Now imagine navigating that course by following the voice of your guide skier. I would just lay down and give up. They were flying. Then they did their shooting. These athletes shoot with a laser system that gives a tone when they are lined up on the target. I never got close enough or got to talk to anyone about how exactly it worked, but it seemed pretty cool. How often to get to watch blind target shooting? Amazing. Long story short if you ever get the chance to go to a Paralympic World Cup, Go. Where ever your seats happen to be.