Deaf Athletes May Not Experience Sochi in 2014; Can Still Compete in Russia

With the Winter Olympics set to begin in Sochi, Russia, this Thursday, it’s a great time to discuss winter sports. Two of the most popular sports are Skiing and Snowboarding, both of which appear in the Olympics in Halfpipe, Slopestyle, and racing competitions. Although there don’t appear to be any deaf competitors in Sochi, deaf athletes will have the chance to compete in the 18th Winter Deaflympics in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, in 2015.

The International Committee of Deaf Sports (ICSD) organized the first Deaflympics in 1924. Since then, the Deaflympics have featured athletes from 77 different nations. The 17th Winter Deaflympics in Slovakia offered individual competitions in Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, and Snowboarding. The team sports were Ice Hockey and Curling.

The winner of each individual event receives, rather than the traditional gold medal, a vermeil (a sort of combination of gold, silver, and other metals) medal and a diploma. Team sports winners receive only the diploma. In addition, individual competitors who finish 4th-8th receive diplomas as well.

In order for an athlete to compete in these games, he or she must meet certain requirements:

– He or she must be deaf (Well, who would have thought? No surprise there!)
– Deafness is defined as a hearing loss of at least 55 dB in the better ear
– A member of an affiliated deaf sports National Federation

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are strictly forbidden in Deaflympic competitions.

Other than that, there are no restrictions on gender, race, religious affiliation, or age. However, age restrictions may apply if the sport’s rules and regulations require it. Snowboarding, for instance, requires a minimum age of 15.

For any deaf athletes who perhaps missed out on the fun in Sochi, the Winter Deaflympics are certainly a fun and competitive alternative. More detailed information regarding these games can be found on the Deaflympics website,

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