Great Britain's winter para-athletes first competed at the 1992 Winter Paralympics held in Tignes and Albertville, France, the first Winter Paralympics to be celebrated concurrently with the Winter Olympic Games.
The British team included athletes in all 3 disciplines contested at the Games; 11 in alpine skiing, 4 in biathlon and 3 in cross-country skiing. British athletes secured five medals; 1 silver and 4 bronze, meaning Britain placed fifteenth in the medal table. In the early days of winter para-sports all GB athletes were self-funded and this remains largely true of the programme today.
In the late 1990’s the British Disabled Ski Team was formed as an independent entity and in 2002 were only allocated 2 athlete places for the games in Salt Lake City. Both of these were male sit skiers (Steve Napier and Russell Docker). Both athletes delivered solid performances in a strong field that was far better funded and equipped so it is no surprise that neither achieved the high rankings their potential showed might be possible.
Following these games a major re-think and reorganisation occurred within the UK winter sports landscape with many of the old disabled skiing charities consolidating into Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK) with the team becoming the racing arm of DSUK. Following Salt Lake UK Sport and Paralympics GB were unsure of investing in a team for the Turin Winter Paralympics in 2006. However, both organisations saw genuine will from DSUK to develop a strong team and close the performance gap between GB and the other nations.
In 2006 a major quest for talent began with the formation of an adult Development Squad and shortly after a Youth Squad to help skiers move from recreational to racing standard and create a pathway to the senior team. From the senior team sit skier Sean Rose won the first ever World Cup gold medal (Downhill) for GB in early 2010 with visually impaired ski racer Kelly Gallagher MBE rapidly emerging out of development to secure 4th at the Vancouver Winter Paralympics in 2010 in Giant Slalom, Kelly went on to win a clutch of medals at the World Championships in 2011 and 2013.
Kelly continued on a path to greater medal success securing Great Britain’s first ever Winter Gold Medal with Guide Charlotte Evans MBE. Kelly and Charlotte were joined in their success by fellow visually impaired athlete Jade Etherington and Guide Caroline Powell who took 3 silvers and 1 bronze (becoming GB’s most decorated winter Paralympian at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014). Sochi also saw another visually impaired talent emerge in the form of Millie Knight, Britain’s youngest ever winter Paralympian, Millie went on to win Britain’s first World Cup Crystal Globe repeating the feat the following year with Guide Brett Wild alongside Menna Fitzpatrick another visually impaired women’s racer who also secured a Crystal Globe with her Guide Jennifer Kehoe.
The British Parasnowsport Snowboard Team has been competing in international competition since 2015. Ben Moore took Great Britain’s first ever IPC Para-Snowboard World Championship medals in 2015 claiming a silver and bronze whilst in February 2017 he competed in the Para-Snowboard World Championships in Big White Kelowna with fellow athlete Owen Pick with both athletes taking Bronze and Silver Podium spots respectively in Banked Slalom. Para-Snowboard is very much in its early stages in Great Britain however performances such as James Barnes-Miller's recent fourth place in the World Championships SBX shows that Para-Snowboard will only grow in its successes.