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ParaSki4Europe: I want to be in the mountains!

Rafał Szumiec won two gold medals during European Winter Para Sport Event – Poland 2020. The athlete spends more time riding a hand bike than mono-ski, but his presence was compatible with the main idea of ParaSki4Europe.

Para alpine skiers competed at Czarna Góra Resort in giant and slalom in 3 groups: sitting, standing and visually impaired (skiing with guides). What does athlete’s guide work look like – watch the video!

European Winter Para Sport Event – Poland 2020 was a meeting point for people who love outdoor snow sports. – The competition was to integrate and to promote. Most of the athletes weren’t those who usually compete during world or European cups – said Rafał Szumiec mainly involved in hand biking as he takes part in hand bike races and drives his own club VeloActiv.


– I haven’t been training skiing for many years. I ended my career after Sochi Paralympic Games (2014) before which I had trained professionally – Szumiec adds, nowadays skiing only for fun.


Is it possible to compare hand biking to sitting mono-ski skiing?


These are two different worlds, completely different logistic. As for trainings, it is much easier with hand biking, the athlete can prepare everything by himself, doesn’t need his coach all the time, you can arrange everything via Internet.


Challenge and love – altogether

Alpine skiing is much more tough than hand biking. A disabled person using a wheelchair on snow – that is a real challenge. You have to get somehow to the slope, somebody has to place the poles, another person has to control our starts and the best is to record our start – tells Szumiec.

Another problem is the mental barrier of the disabled person and the question she/he usually asks about the way they are perceived. Romuald Schmidt, the director of European Winter Para Sport Event – Poland 2020 pays our attention to the mentioned matter.


– The disabled practicing alpine skiing not always feel well among the able bodied due to their mental barriers. Here we could observe paraskiers skiing better than many able-bodied people can even dream of – faster and more effective, which is additional value of the project.


When Rafał Szumiec picked up sport of the disabled it immediately became his passion.


I love mountains and want to be in the mountains. My first thought after the accident I had was I would not be able to climb the mountains. Later it turned out I could, in a different way, but that was great! And hand bike is fantastic. Riding a bike also was my passion before 2002. I started skiing thanks to Romuald Schmidt who has been building para skiing in Poland since 90-ties. I became Start Poznań athlete and got the equipment I could ski with.

Young generation


Those who were of great importance during PraSki4Europe held in Czarna Góra Resort and Tauron Duszniki Arena were young athletes. Poland was represented by Zuzanna Karpiel (Start Bielsko).  What for her meant to start in the event like that?


I think it was really an interesting event. I am happy I could be part of it and compete in Poland, which had never happened before. There are no girls I could compete with in our country. It is nice to compete among the people you know, but at the same time it is quite stressful as you want to show off.

Zuzanna Karpiel won bronze medal in giant. Was it what she most wanted?


– I tried to do my best but it didn’t go that way. My first ride was better than the second one. However, I could do better at the moment.  Anyway, for me it is a new experience.


European Winter Para Sport Event, Poland 2020 was held for the first time ever in Poland and was an occasion to gain experience for both young athletes like Zuzanna Karpiel  and more experienced once like Rafał Szumiec.


European Winter Para Sports Event, Poland 2020 is the first ever non-comercial event of this kind in winter sports for athletes with disabilities. It was held in Czarna Góra Ski Resort and Duszniki Zdrój Cross Country Center from 24th of February to 1st of March. They competed in four disciplines – para alpine skiing, para – snowboard, cross country skiing and para-biathlon.


European Winter Para Sports Event, Poland 2020 is co-funded by Erasmus+ Sport Programme. Erasmus+Sport “Not-for-profit European Sport events “programme has, with very specific aims, to support volunteering in sport; social inclusion through sport; gender equality in sport and health-enhancing Physical Activity (HEPA). The event is also financed by Ministry of Sport and PKN Orlen, Sponsor of the Event.


The Honorary Patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda.


European Winter Para Sports Event, Poland 2020 have the media patronage of TVP Sport, TVP3 Wrocław and website.



Photos: Adrian Stykowska/Polski Komitet Paraolipmijski


More information at ParaSki4Europe and