No skiing on Shabbat for Sheina

March 11, 2022 by AAP
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Israeli para-alpine skier Sheina Vaspi has made the agonising call to withdraw from the women’s giant slalom on religious grounds after the event was moved to Saturday.

Sheina Vaspi. Credit: Courtesy of International Paralympic Committee

The 20-year-old is Israel’s first and only Winter Paralympian at their debut Games and was due to compete in the women’s standing giant slalom on Friday, and then slalom on Sunday.

But amid rising temperatures in Yanqing, the women’s slalom competition was swapped with the men’s and moved to Saturday.

The rescheduling clashed with Shabbat – Jewish Day of Rest – and Vaspi, an orthodox Jew raised in a Lubavitch Hasidic family, subsequently withdrew.

“She comes from a religious family which means there’s certain restrictions,” Israel’s Chef de Mission Inbal Pezaro told reporters on Thursday.

“She skis with a skirt for modesty issues that come with her religion and we fought quite hard for that too, we had to get that approved.

“Because of religious reasons she doesn’t compete or train on Shabbat, on Saturdays.

“Originally the schedule was supposed to be fine. She was supposed to do the GS tomorrow, on Friday and the slalom on Sunday and because of the weather conditions and the snow they decided to switch between the boys and the girls.

“We heard about it just yesterday, a short while before there was a proper announcement, we tried to say something, we wrote a letter and everything.

“But as soon as we understood it was a technical issue and in order for the athletes to have the best conditions, we understand that it’s part of the deal.”

Saturday is forecast to be significantly warmer than Sunday and with far fewer female para alpine skiers than their male equivalents, the rescheduling allows both to be completed.

When they heard the news, Israel’s delegation wrote to the International Paralympic Committee.

Pezaro said the IPC were “understanding” and felt sorry for Vaspi but couldn’t change things, while the disappoint ed skier had been aware for some time inclement weath er could affect her schedule.

“She comes from an understanding place and as soon as we arrived and she understood the weather conditions are not optimal, it was her first scare, she was afraid for the GS race to be postponed,” Pezaro said.

“So it was on the table from the beginning.”

Pezaro expected the disappointment to motivate Vaspi when she makes her debut in Friday’s giant slalom, her preferred event, and in slalom in the future.

“The fact that she’s here is an historic moment for us,” she said.

“It’s a big deal. She (qualified) from her own points. I was really proud and surprised by how much support she got from our country in the last 24 hours.

“She’s getting a lot of support and understanding. Everybody’s proud of her for being here and doing her best. What can you do?”



One Response to “No skiing on Shabbat for Sheina”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    In this kind of international competition, I don’t think you should enter if you’re not prepared to compete in the same way as others.

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