Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Visually Impaired Classification

Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Visually Impaired Classification

Did you know Paralympic athletes get tested on how blind they are?

I am currently sitting on a plane traveling from Hanover à the Netherlands for the weekend. I left today (Saturday) and will be back on campus on Monday afternoon just in time to start studying for my finals. I know this sounds irrational and you’re right, it is. but if I don’t go on this trip I can’t ski this season, because every Paralympic athlete needs to get something called a classification. Classifying is a way of basically ranking every disability to make varying degrees of these disabilities comparable. Classification is the reason I (someone who is legally blind but can see some things) can ski against someone who is totally blind and it can be deemed fair. Essentially I am flying to the Netherlands so that I can be reassured for the 10,000th time that yes, indeed, I am still blind and no my vision has not gotten better or worse in the last three years. However, unlike myself, many of my competitors do have degenerative vision lose. For them, classification is incredibly important because their vision gets worse over time, and therefore their classification can often change.

Visually impaired classification is broken down into three categories; B1, B2, and B3. B1 athletes are totally blind and compete wearing completely blacked out goggles. B2 skiers are slightly more sighted than B1 athletes, and B3 skiers are the most sighted of the visually impaired athletes. Each division has different factors, which basically refers to a percent of the actual time it takes the athlete to ski the race. B1 athletes who have the least amount of vision might, for example, have a factor of 0.55 for some races, meaning only 55% of that athlete’s raw time is considered. On the other hand, a B3 may have a factor of around 0.85 meaning 85% of that athlete’s time is considered. The difference in factors is what makes the times between the two athletes comparable and ideally competitive.

Visually impaired classification can get a bit controversial because, unlike some of the other disabilities, eye sight isn’t quite as straight forward. For instance, it’s pretty easy to look at an amputee and know whether he is missing his leg above or below the knee. It is a little more difficult to evaluate someone who is legally blind and determine just how much that person can actually see. Vision conditions are so diverse but in order for classification to work an arbitrary line must be drawn to categorize visual impairments. Consequently, it is impossible to make everyone happy even though the system is designed to help.

There are plenty of athletes, including myself that fall unfortunately close to that arbitrary cut off line between classes. There are a wide range of vision disorders in each category, and while being at the lower end of one may be portrayed as a disadvantage, I like to think of it as a challenge to be the best athlete I can be. Classification is something every Paralympic athlete knows well, and while it will never be perfect, it is necessary and a crucial part of Paralympic sport.

Cover Image Credit: youtube.com

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Top 5 Greatest NHL Players Of All Time

Who Will Make The Cut?

Within the hockey world, there is generally a large debate about who the greatest hockey players of all time are. However, five of these players repeatedly show up in every list whether it be top ten or top 100. These top five are:

1. Wayne Gretzky

Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about hockey has heard of Gretzky. To many, he is considered a hockey god. The nickname, "The Great One", wasn't given lightly. Throughout his entire hockey career Gretzky played 1,487 games over which he totaled 894 goals, 1,963 assists and accumulated 2,857 career points. He also broke the records set by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy for fifty goals in fifty games.

Gretzky managed to score the fifty in thirty-nine games. Gretzky also left the league with sixty-one NHL records. To top it all off, Gretzky was awarded numerous trophies, awards and won the Stanley Cup four times with the Edmonton Oilers. He also played in eighteen All-Star games.

2. Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe is also a name you often hear in talks about hockey. Howe was nicknamed "Mr. Hockey". Gretzky idolized Howe who had set many of the records previous to Gretzky arriving on the scene. Howe in his five decade long hockey career played 1,767 games, scored 801 goals, had 1,049 assists and accumulated 1,850 career points.

Howe won four Stanley Cup championships, appeared in 23 NHL All-Star games, won the Hart Trophy six times, won the Art Ross trophy six times, and had twenty-two consecutive NHL seasons in which he scored at least twenty-three points.

3. Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr revolutionized the way that the game of hockey was played. Orr excelled in his position as a defensive player. Orr, as a rookie, was awarded the Calder Trophy. In his short NHL career Orr, played 657 games, scored 270 goals, had 645 assists, and averaged 915 career points.

He brought the Bruins two Stanley Cup championships, was awarded the Norris trophy as best defenseman in the league eight times in eight seasons, was awarded the Art Ross trophy, the Hart trophy, the Conn Smythe, and the Lester B. Pearson Award which has been renamed the Ted Lindsay Award. Unfortunately for Orr, he was forced to retire at 30 years old due to issues with his knee that left him in severe pain.

4. Jean Beliveau

Jean Beliveau is most noted for the fact that during his career in the NHL he took home a staggering ten Stanley Cup wins. He is also noted as being the first to have the three year retirement period waved in order to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Throughout his career Beliveau played 1,125 games, scored 507 goals, had 712 assists and accumulated 1,219 career points. Beliveau won the Hart Trophy twice, the Art Ross Trophy, the Conn Smythe, and appeared in thirteen NHL All-Star Games.

5. Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux was considered one of the greatest hockey players to have played as well. Orr, considered one of the best, often gave praise concerning Lemieux and his style of play. In his career, Lemieux played 915 games, scored 690 goals, had 1,033 assists and averaged 1,723 career points. He won the Stanley Cup twice, received the Conn Smythe, received the Art Ross trophy six times, and the Hart Trophy three times.

Lemieux also had ten seasons in which he scored 100 points. However, his career was littered with serious injuries and illnesses. Even with severe back pain, Lemieux continued to play with utmost excellence. However, after being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and undergoing radiation therapy on top of suffering from severe back issues, Lemieux retired at thirty-one.

Every single one of these players proved themselves in one way or another through their innovative playing, their incredible showmanship, and the records/standards that they set for the rest of the NHL.

Cover Image Credit: Pexel

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Where is my Home In This World

One Person Many Cultures

Growing up has a kid, I was never able to Identify where I called home. Many times people have asked me, where are you from? I then wonder if are they asking where I was raised? My birthplace? Or where I now reside. This is the outcome of one who has moved to different locations and lived the same amount of years at one place to eventually call it home. I call this, the life of a Third Culture Kid. For those of you who do not know what a Third-Culture Kid (TCK) is, you are in for a treat. A TCK is someone who grew up in a culture that they were accustomed to and ended up moving to another country or place to learn a whole different culture. TCK kids often find themselves struggling to fit into a new culture different from their own. There is a sense of feeling left out because we do not understand why things are done a certain way or why people think a certain a way. Sometimes being a TCK has it’s pros and its cons. 

- We sometimes find ourselves with other TCKs or those that look like us

- We usually feel like we are outcasts at our place of origin because of being away for so long

- It is hard to sometimes call a place home when you have lived the same amount of years at both places 

- Missing your extended family back home is a pretty tough one

- We have long distance friendships

- We get to eat food from our own culture and also from the new culture

- We see things from a different perspective when it comes to social issues

- We tend to build relationships with everyone around us

- We get to live two different cultures at the same time. As a TCK, we tend to mix our native culture and new culture together, best example is in clothing.

- Our accent changes depending on who we’re talking to

- Our taste in music is very diverse culturally wise

And all this is just a glimpse of being a Third Culture Kid! 

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