Aussies march on PyeongChang Paralympics

Warren Barnsley

Snowboarder Joany Badenhorst has flown the flag as Australia's Winter Paralympics team marched on the PyeongChang Games opening ceremony.

Most of the 15 Australian athletes plus officials marched on PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on Friday, with two of the six alpine skiers competing on day one the following morning remaining at the athletes' village.

As the ceremony started, spectators were treated to fireworks and a lights show before the athletes' march, which was followed by the Paralympics flag-raising and lighting of the flame.

Similarly to the Olympics ceremonies, colour and culture featured heavily throughout, with traditional Korean aspects combining with the new such as K-Pop music and dancing.

Team co-captain Badenhorst became the first Australian woman to carry the flag at the Winter Paralympics.

One of her country's best-credentialed athletes in PyeongChang, she is soon to turn her attention to winning its first Winter Games gold medal in 16 years.

She said she was honoured to carry the flag.

"We're lucky because we've got such an incredibly strong team," she said before the ceremony.

"But even if that wasn't the case, the way they see the sport and the amount we've committed to the sport is incredible.

"To have us all working together for that goal - that podium - is phenomenal."

The South African-born Badenhorst, who lost her leg 13 years ago in a farming accident, did not compete in Sochi 2014 after being seriously injured on her final training run.

She broke her patella, collapsed her hip and dislocated her knee in a crash hours before competing but has risen to dominate the past World Cup season.

Unlike the Olympics opening ceremony, North and South Korea's athletes did not march together after failing to agree on which version of the unified flag to use.

North Korea, who are participating in their first Winter Paralympics, wanted to use a version of the Korean peninsula flag that includes islands disputed with Japan.

Japan had complained to South Korea about fans waving the flag at a women's ice hockey game last month between the combined North and South Korean team and Sweden.

A record 567 athletes from 48 countries, plus the Neutral Paralympic Athlete delegation, will compete at the Games.

"Everything starts with a dream. Great stories, great achievements, great drama," International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parson told the audience, who sat through three-degree temperatures.

"In a dream, anything is possible. Over the next 10 days, billions of people around the world will witness dreams becoming true here in PyeongChang."