May 15, 2022

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Snowboarders at the Paralympics You Didn’t Want to Walk Around

Snowboarders at the Paralympics You Didn't Want to Walk Around

More than two years ago, the 2018 Paralympic Games gold medalist Hernandez, South Korea, was told by the International Committee of the Red Cross that she and Huckabee, the 2018 gold medalist from Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, could not compete in the Beijing Olympics.

No one accused them of any wrongdoing. Their misfortune was to enter races that would be canceled due to the lack of other skaters.

Hernandez, 47, and Huckabee, 26, were both classified as SB-LL1. The SB-LL1 rider has significant weakness in one leg, such as an amputation above the knee, or significant weakness in both legs. But there weren’t enough LL1 qualified skaters to make the race viable, and the IPC shut it down.

So Huckabee instead asked to be placed in the men’s LL1 race or the women’s LL2 class, both ostensibly being two more challenging classes for her. The LL2 competitor has weakness in one or both legs, with less activity restriction than the LL1 competitor. In all semi-sports, the rating is determined by the physicians who monitor the athletes.

The IPC refused her application, even though the contestants were ahead of the class. The IPC opposes the transfer of athletes from one category to other events. This could affect the integrity of the competition if athletes are allowed to race in any classification of their choice.

Huckabee and Hernandez appointed German attorney Christoph Fischmann to handle the case because with Bonn-based ABC, German courts had jurisdiction.

Wieschemann first won a temporary injunction in Huckaby’s favor on January 27, arguing that rating systems of any kind in all sports are designed to “protect the weak against the strong,” not the other way around.