Para World Cup comes to UOP |

Para World Cup comes to UOP

This weekend, the Utah Olympic Park will play host to the second and third races of the IBSF Bobsled and Skeleton Para World Cup.

Following the season-opening race in Calgary, para bobsled and skeleton athletes from five nations will take the ice in Park City for two more races in the six-race season.

John Rosen, Chairman of the IBSF Para-sport Committee, said it’s a big year for the Para Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup as it strives to gain international acceptance.

"This is the second season and this is a very, very important season for us," he said. "At the end of this season, in September, the IPC [International Paralympic Committee] will rule on our application for the inclusion of these events in the 2022 Winter Paralympics."

Rosen said the IPC is working closely with the IBSF to make sure the sports meet the guidelines for inclusion.

"We’re feeling quite good about it," he said. "We need to show it’s a bona fide sport with worldwide reach and participation."

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Other items on the checklist include things like trained officials, published rules and published results, Rosen added.

With athletes from the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Latvia slated to compete at the Utah Olympic Park this weekend, Rosen said the organization is making great strides toward worldwide reach.

As far as U.S. athletes, Rosen said there will be plenty of names to watch this weekend.

"For bobsled, Jason Sturm will be fighting for a spot on the podium, competing against Canadians Lonnie Bissonnette and Corie Mapp," he said. "And I would certainly point out Eric Eierdam [in skeleton]. He’ll probably be battling Matt Richardson of Great Britain."

Rosen also mentioned Aaron Lanningham, who made history at the UOP in 2003.

"Aaron is the first athlete with a disability to ever descend from the top of the bobsled track," he said. "He’s a true pioneer of the sport. Another athlete who will be competing is Gary Kuhl. Gary was Aaron’s brakeman in that descent. Now they will both be piloting mono-bobs."

For the para bobsled and skeleton competitions, there are rules that differ slightly from what the able-bodied athletes do.

"Many of our athletes are wheelchair athletes," Rosen said. "[For bobsled], the officials will take the sleds to a fixed point on the track and release the sled. From there, it’s just like an able-bodied bobsled race. [In skeleton] the athlete is only allowed to push the sled using one leg."

Races on both Saturday and Sunday begin at 4:30 p.m. and admission is free to the public. Rosen said the event will be a great way for spectators to see some world-class athletes in action.

"We strongly encourage the public to come out and cheer and get excited," he said.

The IBSF para athletes will return to Park City in March, Rosen said, for the first-ever Para World Championships.

Para Bobsled and Skeleton Schedule

Saturday, Nov. 21 — 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 22 — 4:30 to 7 p.m.