May 22, 2022

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The Paralympics ice skaters who didn’t want to roam

The Paralympics ice skaters who didn't want to roam

More than two years ago, the ICRC told Hernandez, the 2018 Paralympic gold medalist in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 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 because there were no other snowboarders.

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.

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