Elite Paralympic Snowboard demands IPC admission of Brenna Huckaby (USA) and Cécile Hernandez (France) to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.

The weekend before the International Day of People with Disabilities, the elite of female snowboarders with impairments were gathered in Landgraaf (NL) for the training camp and the first races. Among them: Brenna Huckaby (25) and Cécile Hernandez (47), the two most successful snowboarders in their class in recent years, with a combined 5 Olympic medals and 8 World Championship titles. If the International Paralympic Committee IPC has its way, the two will not be at the next Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. There will be no competition in their LL-1 class. Their request to allow them to compete in the men’s LL-1 or the women’s LL-2 classes with a lesser degree of impairment has been rejected by the IPC.

In December, the entire elite of Paralympic snowboarding from the USA, Italy, Iran, Poland, Canada, Switzerland, Romania, Spain, Great Britain, France, Netherlands, Japan, signed an appeal to the IPC to allow female athletes of the SB-LL1 class to participate in the Paralympic Winter Games. The petition was joined in December by coaches from the leading Para Snowboard nations. An impressive movement towards an inclusive understanding of Paralympic sport far beyond snowboarding.

The idea came from Cécile Hernandez, who met Brenna Huckaby in Landgraaf. Both are not friends, they have been competitors for years, but they are united in this matter and both are advised by lawyer Christof Wieschemann, WIESCHEMANN Rechtsanwälte from Germany. The three of them formulated an petition in Landgraaf, which Brenna Huckaby and Cécile Hernandez promoted in the days that followed with overwhelming success among the other athletes, all their competitors.

The undersigned consider it unfair to exclude the female athletes with the highest degree of disability from participating in the most important sporting event and call for the LL-1 and LL-2 classes to be allowed to compete together. This is the only way to ensure the effort to integrate women with lower limb impairments into Paralympic sports.

Attorney Christof Wieschemann has filed an application with the Regional Court of Cologne on behalf of Brenna Huckaby for an injunction against the IPC to allow Brenna Huckaby to qualify and participate in the Men’s LL-1 or Women’s LL-2 Snowboard competitions in Beijing. The application will be heard on Thursday 20.1.2022, before the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (Cartel Senate).

Brenna Huckaby:

“I have dedicated my life to Parasnowboarding since losing my leg to cancer as a young teenager. It was an honor and a pleasure to represent Team USA at the 2018 Paralympics, compete and win, and I trained and competed with the goal of repeating my performance at the Beijing 2022 Games. I see no reason why I and my LL1 colleagues should be prevented from competing in a more challenging class, whether it be against the LL2 women or the LL1 men. We are simply asking to be included. The Paralympic movement, which I have championed throughout my career, focuses on inclusion and equality in sports opportunities for people with disabilities. Our inclusion in the Parasnowboarding competitions at the 2022 Paralympics will advance the Paralympic movement and hopefully pave the way for even more inclusive and representative Paralympic Games in the future.”

Attorney Christof Wiescheman: “Paralympic sport must remember what its task is, namely to overcome differences and not to solidify them. The preservation of competitive justice does not serve the protection of the more powerful, but the protection of the weaker ones, which neither need nor wish the protection here however. To invoke the separation of performance classes against the best female snowboarders LL-1 of the last years in order to exclude them from the class LL-2 is downright cynical. The IPC thus violates the canon of values laid down in its own statutes. “