Those who had suffered injuries in World War II used sports as a means for recovery and rehabilitation, which gave rise to the Paralympic Games. In 1960 the first Summer Games were held in Rome. The Games were very successful, which led to increased opportunities for those with disabilities and interests in the sport.
In 1974 the first official World ski competition for disabled athletes was held. It featured cross-country and downhill skiing. The first Winter Paralympics were held from 21 – 28 February 1976 at Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Sixteen countries and 198 athletes participated. “It was the first time athletes with disabilities, other than wheelchair athletes were permitted to compete.” Aside from European National Paralympic Committees, Uganda, Canada, the United States, and Japan participated. The success of the first Winter Paralympics opened up even more opportunities for Para athletes.
The second Winter Paralympic Games were held four years later in Geilo, Norway. The third sport introduced in 1980 became Ice Speed Skating. Competitions were held in 63 disciplines across three other sports – Para Cross-Country Skiing, Wheelchair Curling, and Para Alpine Skiing. Ice Sledge Racing was also introduced as a new sport. Norway topped with 54 medals, 23 gold, 21 silver, and ten bronze. “Sledge racer Mjassund Oejen of Great Britain won all three competitions in her classification and was the star of the Games. Cato Zahl Pedersen of Norway also bagged three gold medals.”
“The 1980 Games proved that the Winter Paralympic Games were finding its feet and its success was evident in the increased number of participants.”