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Australia's Paralympic Games history
Australia’s strength in the Winter Games lies in alpine skiing and all of Australia’s medal successes have come in the four alpine skiing disciplines.
At the 1992 Paralympic Winter Games in Albertville, leg amputee Michael Milton won a gold medal in the men’s standing Slalom event, Australia’s first gold medal in either Olympic or Paralympic winter competition.
Australia picked up four medals in Albertville in 1992, but its most successful Games remain Lillehammer in 1994, when five athletes won a total of nine medals.
In 1998 in Nagano, Japan, two medals were added to the overall tally. Four years later in Salt Lake City, Australian athletes had a great Games, with Michael Milton becoming the first athlete in his class to claim a clean sweep of gold medals across the four alpine disciplines. His extraordinary performance was backed up by vision impaired athlete Bart Bunting, who won two gold medals and one silver, Australia’s highest gold and second highest overall medal tally at a Winter Games.
At the 2006 Games in Torino, a new competition class structure came into force for alpine skiing. The 14 classes which had existed were combined into three classes – one for standing skiers, one for vision impaired skiers and one for seated skiers. While athletes were still classified into the 14 classes according to their disability, a factoring system - based on the times skied by the best performers in each class - was used to adjust raw times to compare athletes in each of the three combined classes.
The new system reduced the number of potential medals in Paralympic alpine skiing from 128 to 36 and created a fierce level of competition for every medal.
In Torino, Michael Milton won his eleventh Paralympic Winter medal, a silver in the downhill, and rising star Toby Kane picked up his first Games medal, a bronze in the Super G event.
In the years since, the Australian Paralympic Winter Team has won 24 medals at the Paralympic Games, compared to the six Olympic medals won by the Australian Winter Olympic Team.