With all the hustle and bustle around the 2014 winter Olympics, some people may forget another huge event that is happening just two weeks after the closing ceremonies: the Paralympic Winter Games, running March 7 to 16 in Sochi, Russia! The Sochi Paralympics will host more athletes and events than ever before. The games will feature seven disciplines of five sports, for a total of 72 medal events. The US will compete in each of the five sports, which include wheelchair curling, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, biathlon, and sled hockey. There will be an estimated 77 athletes on Team USA, 27 more than 2010. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing information and stories on the Paralympics to get you ready to root for Team USA!
The first sport we will be detailing is alpine skiing. Alpine skiing is downhill skiing with jumps and turns as obstacles. There will be no shortage of action as alpine skiers will compete in slalom and giant slalom (the technical events), as well as downhill, super-G (the racing events) and super combined. Alpine skiers can even hit speeds of 65 miles per hour!
There is no shortage of star power on Team USA! Alpine skier Alana Nichols is back after a serious shoulder injury in summer 2013. She plans to defend her two gold medals from Vancouver in 2010. Stephani Victor had an amazing 2013 with multiple World Cup victories, and if she makes the cut as is expected, she will compete with Nichols as defending champion in super combined (women sitting) where she has beaten Nichols before. Allison Jones is poised to make her seventh U.S. Paralympic team next month. She has competed three times in alpine skiing and three times in cycling, for which she received the gold in London.
The Sochi Winter games is also the debut for men’s and women’s standing snowboard cross as part of the alpine skiing program. Team USA can send up to five women and five men to compete for gold. This type of snowboarding is based on time. The boarders start at the top of a course and race to the finish line, with jumps and turns as obstacles along the way. For this event, the US have Keith Gabel and Evan Strong, who are ranked numbers one and two in the event, as well as Mike Shea, who is ranked fourth. When Shea is not snowboarding, he is working as a brand ambassador for Ralph Lauren.
The USA Paralympic Alpine ski team should make an impact, both on and off the slopes! You can hear more from Team USA hopefuls in the video below.
How do you think Team USA will do? What do you think of the athletes? Will you be cheering them on? Tell us in the comments below.