2018 Winter Paralympics open in Pyeongchang with record field of athletes

The Olympic flame is extinguished, but that doesn't mean that the Olympic spirit is gone from South Korea. On Friday, the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games kicked off with the Opening Ceremony, and so Pyeongchang's hosting duties re-opened after the Winter Olympics concluded on Feb. 25. There are a few key difference between the Olympics and the Winter Olympics, so here's a primer.

For starters, the Paralympics   are only a week long. The dates this year are from March 9-March 18. Countries compete for 80 medals in these Winter Games, and there are six key categories.

Where 2,922 Olympians competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics, there are over 570 athletes expected to compete at the Paralympics. Forty-nine nations are participating in the Paralympics  as opposed to 92. Nonetheless, it's the most athletes to ever participate in the Paralympic Games. They'll be competing in alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling.

Each sport is modified in its own right. Ice sledge hockey is fascinating variation of hockey. The players are on sleds and have two sticks with which they propel themselves. They use both sticks to shoot. It's an incredible display of upper body strength, and extremely entertaining to watch. Here's a taste.

Wheelchair curling is another interesting variation. It was introduced in Turin in 2006, and sweeping is nixed. This makes the throw more important, since the direction can't be altered.

Although they don't get the coverage of the Olympics, they're still incredible feats of athletic achievement -- some would argue they're even more impressive. The Opening Ceremony has already concluded (if you're curious, North and South Korea marched under separate flags), so these Games are already in full swing. The first Winter Paralympics were held in 1976. Now, over 30 years later, they're bigger than ever.

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