Brenna Huckaby Barred From Competing in the 2022 Paralympics


Winter Sports Snow Snowboard Sport Cold Winter

Emmaline Pan, Staff Writer

Brenna Huckaby, a champion paralympic snowboarder who earned two gold medals in PyeongChang in the 2018 Winter Olympics, was barred from competing in Beijing after her disability class was cut.

Huckaby (25), was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2010, resulting in the amputation of her right leg. A month after her surgery, she got her first prosthetic leg, and while this crushed her dreams of being a gymnast, she quickly turned her attention to the slopes and attacked them with as much passion as she had gymnastics. Huckaby began competing in 2013, and eventually made her way to PyeongChang where she won her two gold medals in snowboard cross and banked slalom.

She was training to defend her titles in the 2022 Winter Olympics, when the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) eliminated her category of snowboarders, due to the lack of eligible participants. Her category was the highest level of disability, which is for athletes with ‘significant impairment to one or both legs, such as amputation above the knee’.

Huckaby initially petitioned to join a different category, placing her at a disadvantage as she would be competing against women of a lesser disability. Despite these odds, Huckaby trained harder and secured her place on that team, beating out many other athletes. However, the committee recently released rules that deemed her ineligible to compete that way either.

“I’m literally being excluded because of my disability,” Huckaby told Fox News. “I want them to stick to their mission statement about inclusion and equity and in being there for the athletes.”

Huckaby took to social media to protest against the unfair regulations. “I have done everything I can to confirm my eligibility for Beijing. I have fought with petitions, submissions & legal action,” Huckaby wrote on her Instagram. “I fought by earning podium finishes in the harder class. I fought by winning a World Title, proving I deserve the opportunity to compete on the world’s biggest stage. And now I am fighting by speaking out.”

Huckaby’s efforts paid off as on Feb. 3, when a German court ruled that she will be allowed to compete in the Olympic games with the less impaired athletes.

The IPC expressed disapproval in the court’s verdict.

“We are extremely surprised and disappointed at the court’s decision which shows a complete disregard for the rules and regulations of World Para Snowboard and the Beijing 2022 qualification criteria, and a lack of understanding of the classification system in Paralympic sport,” said Andrew Parsons, IPC President.

Huckaby took to Twitter to express her excitement, stating that while this was a big win for disability inclusion, there is always more work to be done.

The 2022 Paralympic Games will begin on Mar. 4th.


Photo courtesy of MAXPIXEL.NET