Skiing in a skirt, Sheina Vaspi sends message in Paralympic debut

Israeli alpine skier Sheina Vaspi, a Hasidic Jew from the Chabad movement, made her Paralympic debut wearing a skirt.
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On Friday at the 2022 Winter Paralympics, alpine skier SheyneSheina” Vaspi became Israel’s first ever winter Paralympian. The 20-year-old Vaspi competed in the women’s giant slalom competition wearing a skirt over her racing suit.

“It’s also a part of my religion and I’m happy I’m able to do that,” said Vaspi, an orthodox Jew raised in a Lubavitch Hasidic family.

Vaspi, who lost her left leg at age 3 in a traffic accident, says she previously encountered resistance about competing in a skirt.

“At the beginning there were ‘safety problems’, they called it,” she told the Times of Israel last month. “They told me it probably wouldn’t be allowed, but in the end, to me it’s a total miracle because despite all odds they gave me permission. I train in a skirt and compete in a skirt and there won’t be any problems in the future for competing in a skirt.”

After the first run of giant slalom on Friday, she doubled down on that message. “If more women or religious people want to do sport and be religious, I want to show it’s possible to do that.”

Unfortunately for Vaspi, her 15th place finish in giant slalom will be her only result from the Beijing Paralympic Games. She was originally slated to also ski slalom, but anticipated high temperatures in China caused the race to be moved forward from Sunday to Saturday.

“I don’t ski on Saturday because I practice Shabbat,” she explained. “On Saturday it is a day for rest, no skiing, no sport.”

Israel's Sheyne "Sheina" Vaspi after run one of the women's giant slalom (standing classification) at the 2022 Winter Paralympics.
Israel’s Sheyne “Sheina” Vaspi after run one of the women’s giant slalom (standing classification) at the 2022 Winter Paralympics. (Photo by WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images)

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