Champions from Zakopane 2024 aspires to compete at the Winter Paralympic Games, urges IPC for inclusion

The second day of the inaugural Virtus European Winter Games in Zakopane ushered in a frosty morning, with temperatures plunging below -3 degrees. Amidst the chill, athletes at the Skiing World and European Championship and European Rowing Championship embraced the chance for victory.

As the Slalom events unfolded, reigning champions defended their titles with aplomb, while fresh talent emerged victorious, ushering in a new era of champions. Amidst these triumphs, athletes seized the moment to advocate for the inclusion of skiing events in the forthcoming Winter Paralympic Games, underscoring the importance of representation and opportunity for all athletes on the global stage

Eva-Maria Dünser from Austria soared to victory in the Slalom event, clocking an impressive time of 42.47 seconds. Reflecting on her aspirations for Paralympic participation, Eva-Maria shared her heartfelt dream, stating,

My biggest dream is that my team and I can compete at the Paralympic winter games…everyone has the ability to ski. You just have to believe in yourself.”

Mélanie De Bona, who clinched gold in Super-G and silver in Slalom, echoed these sentiments, expressing hope for Paralympic inclusion, remarking,

 “I hope that my gold medal helps me to open the doors to the Paralympics…it would be incredible!

Thomas Girard from France, adding to his accolades with one gold and one silver at the Virtus Skiing World Championship, reflected on his recent victories, saying,

“I feel very good after winning one gold and one silver at the Virtus European Winter Games, it helped me regain my confidence like last season. I also regained the title of World Champion today which I was already titled 5 years ago. So, it’s really good and I am going to celebrate my victory with friends and all the staff. I hope we, the skiers, are included into the Paralympic Games soon.”

In a bold move to expand opportunities for athletes with intellectual impairments, Virtus submitted a bid for 2030 Winter Paralympics expansion , urging the IPC and FIS to end long-standing exclusion. Committed to inclusivity, Virtus remains steadfast in its mission to provide avenues for athletes to shine on the global stage.

Virtus member nation delagates meets with Virtus governing board to support the Winter Paralympics #reinclusion campaign at Zakopane 2024.

At Zakopane, the 11 nations competing were also able to meet and discuss the commitment and strategy required for the growth of skiing, and the reinclusion in to the Winter Paralympic Games.

Leading the re-inclusion voice on behalf of Virtus Sport, President Marc Truffaut said,

“We believe that even if you have a disability, you can be an elite athlete and that’s why we are fighting for the re-inclusion of II athletes in the Paralympic movement.”

“It’s the beginning of a new area where Virtus is going to build a strong program in Alpine and Nordic ski to convince the international body, the International Paralympic Committee, we want to convince them and show them that athletes with an intellectual impairment are excellent and they represent the universality of the Paralympic movement.”