After her disability class was cut, a Paralympic snowboarder who won gold in the 2018 Winter Paralympics is fighting for a spot in Beijing this year.
Brenna Huckaby, 25, won two gold medals in PyeongChang for snowboard cross and banked slalom, and she was preparing to defend her titles in Beijing this March — until the Paralympic committee announced that there weren’t enough women with her level of disability competing, so her events were scrapped entirely.
Despite this, Huckaby was told she could compete in a different class, so she worked even harder to make the cut against women who were less disabled than she was — and she did so with flying colors.
However, Huckaby claims that new rules have ruled her ineligible to compete in that manner as well, and she is fighting for her inclusion on social media.
She had just won her fourth world title, but she claimed the victory had been spoiled by bad news about the Paralympics.
‘As I awoke today, I couldn’t help but think of this victory as bittersweet,’ she wrote, ‘because I will not be able to defend my Paralympic Gold Medals or this World Title at the 2022 Beijing Paralympics.’
She went on to explain how her events were cut due to a lack of competitors with the same level of disability as her.
‘Paralympic sports are divided into classes based on the severity of impairment,’ she explained.
‘I compete in Parasnowboarding’s most handicapped class as an above-the-knee amputee.
‘The International Paralympic Committee removed our medal events from Beijing because my class did not have enough participation,’ she explained.
Brenna was placed in the SB-LL1 category in 2018, which is for competitors who have a’significant impairment to one leg, such as amputation above the knee,’ or a’significant combined impairment in two legs.’
Despite being included in previous Winter Paralympics, this classification has been removed from the 2022 Games due to a lack of athletes planning to compete.
Brenna did believe there was another option: competing against athletes who were less impaired, which would be more difficult but would at least allow her to compete.