June 21, 2024

With the high-tech tailwind of the Paralympics premiere |  Sports |  DW

With the high-tech tailwind of the Paralympics premiere | Sports | DW

The Paralympic Games in Beijing are the premiere for 14 out of 22 German participants. One of them is Christian Schmidt. The 33-year-old has been ice skating for more than 20 years. He noticed early on that despite having quadrilateral dyskinesia (a congenital malformation of single limbs), he was driving faster than some of the non-disabled friends with whom he started the sport. Schmidt’s Pure Psychology: “I think a lot is also a matter of the head. Everyone has a certain limit at which they say, ‘Well, don’t go faster now.'” “This limit has been set too late.”

Eight years after the goal

In 2014, figure skating was included in the program of the Paralympic Games for the first time in Sochi. For Christian Schmidt and his companion Manuel Ness it was clear: one day to the Paralympics, it will be a dream. At that time, there was only one writer from Germany, Stefan Loesler. Otherwise there was nothing. No national team, no coach, no budget.

In the winter of 2015, Schmidt and Wins started their first World Cup. They paid for the adventure out of their own pocket. “For reasons of money and time, we were not able to participate in all the races,” says Schmidt, describing her beginnings. “We took the races in Europe with us. Besides training, it cost us about 2,500 euros per person per season.”

Only after the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyoengchang, for which they both failed to qualify, did the necessary structures develop in Germany. Today there is a coach, a prosthetic technician, an assistant coach, as well as a team doctor. And, of course, the travel budget and the right to a private vacation, because the pioneers of figure skating Schmidt and Nas are official athletes.

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Para skating means high technology

Materials play an important role in every sport. Just in time for the World Championships in January, Schmidt got new pads and new foot prostheses. Inlays (silicone caps for the leg stem) ensure that the prosthesis is properly attached. For this, his legs were examined by a Swiss specialist company. The bushings were then designed using 3D models and produced using 3D printing. “Thanks to this 3D printing, it fits like a second skin. I’ve never had such a precise fit with any other liner,” Schmidt enthuses. “It gives me more comfort and allows me to control my feet more directly.” And his prosthetic foot acts almost like an ankle, thanks to the built-in shock absorption.

These innovations give Schmidt extra impetus to the Paralympic Games. “Sports ambition has certainly been raised. Since the World Cup, I have realized that a lot is possible with the new technology that has been given to me.” His seventh place in the double-bank slalom was the German’s best position at the Snowsports World Championships in Pará in Lillehammer, Norway.

Motivation for the next generation

With good results in Beijing, Schmiedt and Co. In making snowboarding more popular in Germany. In this way, motivate the new athletes so that the national team continues to exist after them. Because the renewed participation in the Paralympic Games, 2026 in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, is not yet expected, although not excluded. Because the competitions in Italy will have one big advantage: all fans of family and friends who would have liked to be there in Beijing can travel in a big bus through the Brenner Pass to offer support.

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Schmidt and his friend Ness have a second sporting dream after the Paralympics, as Schmidt reveals: “We want to participate in the World Cup in Canada, in Big White. This is our very big dream.” But what matters now is the adventure in Beijing. On Sunday, March 6, they will compete in figure skating for the first time.