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Lausanne (RWH) This winter, disabled athletes will officially compete in their own World Cup under the auspices of the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (FIBT) for the first time. The event is open to Para athletes with impaired muscle power (caused by illness or paraplegia), impaired passive range of motion, loss of limb or limb deficiency, leg-length difference (of at least seven centimetres) and hypertonia. Qualified FIBT coaches will ensure that athletes have sufficient experience and driving practice prior to the races

In terms of equipment, athletes will use monobobs which have been fitted with specialist Para equipment and can be piloted and braked by one person. They will also use standard FIBT-approved skeleton sleds.

There are two classes of Para Bobsleigh: one for athletes who can push-start their monobobs, and the other for athletes who require a sitting start. Athletes who cannot push-start themselves will sit in the bob while assistants push them to a fixed point on the start line, at which point the force of gravity will get the bob moving. In the Para Skeleton races, all athletes will use one leg to get their skeleton sleds moving. Athletes are allowed to use their prostheses, with the exception of above-the-knee prosthetics at push-start Monobob class, which are not permitted for safety reasons.

Four Para Skeleton World Cup races are scheduled for the 2014/2015 season. The first two competitions are due to take place in the USA and Canada (Park City, USA, 10 to 14 November 2014 and Calgary, Canada, 17 to 22 November 2014) and will be held at the same time as the North America Cup in bobsleigh/skeleton. The European World Cup events for disabled ice track athletes will be held in Igls, Austria (18 to 23 January 2015) and St. Moritz, Switzerland (26 to 30 January 2015). The Para Bob athletes will initially take part in a test race in Park City before competing for World Cup points in Igls and St. Moritz. The FIBT Para World Cup is not segregated by gender – all athletes compete together.

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