Para-ski is one of the competitive disciplines in parachuting and the only one to originate outside parachuting. The sport originated in Switzerland in the early 1960’s, when Swiss skiers conceived of para-ski as a form of mountain rescue. The concept was to jump from an aircraft, parachute to an open area near the victim, strap on skis, and evacuate the casualty down the mountain. Original European meets were a timed event which included parachuting onto the mountain, donning skies, and racing a course. Today, the two events are conducted separately. Para-ski international meets and cups have been held since 1964 and World Championships since 1987. Meanwhile, the modern, turbine-powered helicopter has replaced the parachute as the aerial vehicle for transporting mountain rescuers and casualties as well as today’s para-ski competitor.
Today’s competition consists of giant slalom (GS) skiing and precision parachuting using gliding parachutes. The GS courses are approximately 1,000 meters long with a run time of one minute and average 30-35 gates. Two GS races are conducted under FIS rules.
Each competitor makes six jumps under FAI rules. Jumps are from 3,000 feet. The target is located in a challenging and sloping mountainside venue; competitors aim for a touch-sensative pad with a five centimeter target center.
A system of scoring combines parachuting and skiing performance to determine combined individual and team winners.