World Para Snow Sports is hoping to boost the number of classifiers at its disposal ©IPC

World Para Snow Sports is planning to stage a two-part course aimed at increasing the number of classifiers - especially in Europe and Asia.

Medical and sports professionals interested in becoming classifiers have been encouraged to take part in the course, with the first part due to be held online in early 2021.

Sandra Titulaer, head of classification for World Para Alpine Skiing and World Para Snowboard, stressed the need to find more classifiers from "different regions of the world".

"COVID-19 is showing us that lots of [classifiers] are living in Australia, New Zealand or in the USA and Canada, and they cannot travel," Titulaer said.

"In Europe we can travel a little bit more, but it would have been better to have more classifiers in more places."

World Para Snow Sports cited that many classifiers are doctors or physical therapists who have experience as coaches, athletes or ski instructors.

For World Para Nordic skiing, there is also a separate category of technical classifiers who do not need a medical background.

The online course is set to span several weeks and offer participants theoretical information on classification as well as practical exercises and a final exam.

"The first step in our course is partly theory, about the Paralympic Movement, about the classification history and all the general things you need to know, how it was built up for our sports, how we assess athletes, what kind of tests they do," Titulaer said.

"We’ll come together for several hours every week to do some quizzes and discussions and we will try to make it as interactive as possible. We are hoping in the end they have almost the same kind of knowledge transfer and ability to practise as we would have in a live situation."

World Para Snow Sports is due to hold the first part of the classifier course next European spring ©Getty Images
World Para Snow Sports is due to hold the first part of the classifier course next European spring ©Getty Images

World Para Snow Sports is anticipating 20 to 25 people to enroll, with only selected participants moving on to the second part of the course.

Those picked well be expected to apply their skills at a World Para Snow Sports classification opportunity during the 2021-2022 season, under the guidance of a senior classifier.

"It’s like a regular mentorship we have in our professions and that works very well because you have some things you can assess with a form, but some things like soft skills are much more difficult to assess," Titulaer explained.

"You must get the feeling for how the person is interacting with an athlete, with a coach, with a difficult problem."

World Para Snow Sports is due to send detailed information about the course to the National Paralympic Committees in the coming weeks.

As well as the two-part course, World Para Snow Sports is offering regular sessions for classifiers.

World Para Alpine Skiing and World Para Snowboard held a four-day refresher course in Bonn in Germany in October 2019 and held a 2020-2021 pre-season session with all active international classifiers in the last week of October.

World Para Nordic Skiing’s refresher course was scheduled to take place in Bonn this year, but had to be postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.

Two sessions were held online in November instead and World Para Nordic Skiing is hoping to hold an on-site course next year.

"The update calls are very helpful to get the classifiers tuned in and updated for the coming winter season," said Elke Gundermann, World Para Nordic Skiing manager.

"The calls usually cover topics on changes over the summer, assignments for the coming season and different parts concerning the classification itself are repeated, such as protest procedures, or physical and observation assessment procedures."