Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Recap Day Two: Four New Shiny Medals for USA Print E-mail
Written by Staff   

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea–it was a warm day today full of turns and new winnings for the american team.

In the second day of Alpine skiing at the Jeongseon Alpine centre started and the atmosphere was out of this world. Today’s course worked in favor of Andrew Kurka, who claimed a silver medal for the U.S.

Super G the second speed discipline started with the women’s visually impaired category. The course didn’t serve Staci Manella well who finished in 10th position while her racing buddy Danelle Umstead fared better in 6th position.

asset_JM1_2401_2760_ioc_2018-03-11_161844.jpgAlly Kunkel USA races in the Alpine Skiing Standing Women’s Super-G at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre. The Paralympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Sunday 11th March 2018. Photo: Joel Marklund for OIS/IOC.

The Standing category had a similar fate. The United States skiers raced their hearts out but unfortunately it wasn’t fast enough. Stephanie Jallen from Harding, PA, came in 10th and 16-year-old Ally Kunkel came in at 7th position. Stephanie could still be seen and with an optimistic attitude as ski down the slopes. Marie Bochet won her second gold in PyeongChang for France.

asset_JM1_2443_2768_ioc_2018-03-11_162035Stephanie Jallen USA races in the Alpine Skiing Standing Women’s Super-G at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre. The Paralympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Sunday 11th March 2018. Photo: Joel Marklund for OIS/IOC. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

Anna Schaffelhuber, won her 7th gold medal in the Women’s sitting category making Germany proud. Considered the most condecorated Paralympian on Team USA, Laurie Stephens, finished 5th.

Andrew Kurka returned to the podium winning silver in the men’s sitting super-G his second medal in the games after winning Gold in sitting downhill on Saturday.

Amy, Andrew’s mom was in the stands passionately supporting her son. Deep down, she just knew that her son was going to make America proud one more day for a second day in-a-row “He’s always been really aggressive and whatever is in front of him he conquers and moves on to the next!” she said. Aspen’s Thomas Walsh finished in 13th position in mens standing.

At the Alpensia Biathlon Center, Cross Country skiing got underway with women and men sit skiers contesting their longest event for the Games, 12km and 15km, respectively with Team USA claiming three podium finishes. The morning started cold, breezy with the sun shining it began to get warmed as the day progressed for the first time during these 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.

The warming trend brought with it, changing snow conditions for the ski waxing teams and athletes to adjust to. Team USA’s Andy Soule, who finished 11th today, a three-time Paralympian and U.S. Army veteran said after the race, “The snow was a little soft in places, but it held up pretty good.”

The sit skiers raced on a 3km loop that wound through the stadium. The delighted spectators had brilliant opportunities to watch and cheer for the hard working competitors chasing after each other at every turn. The men started their 15km event at 10am while the snow was still firm and fast, but by about half through their competition they were noticeably working harder to maintain their speed in the softening snow.

2018-03-11-C4-01961.jpgOksana Masters and Kendall Gretsch celebrating their silver and gold medal respectively at the at the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza medal ceremony. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

Dan Cnossen overcame the day’s challenges like snow meltage to grab silver despite the terrain conditions “Today’s race was very tough, it’s a different kind of race than Biathlon, for me at least it’s a different mindset…” he continued, “… it’s all about digging as deep as I can and going as hard as I can”.


Later, the women’s 12km pushed off. Fresh Gold medalist, from yesterday’s Biathlon event, Kendall Gretsch and Silver Medalist Oksana Masters battled it out with a total of eighteen competitors. True to form Kendall took Gold one more time. The paralympian, who debuted on Saturday said on her astonishing winnings “It’s pretty unbelievable, yeah I’m really excited, it’s unexpected, I really didn’t know what to expect coming in to these Games”.

Danny Chin - Omega Photo StudiosKendall Gretsch competes in the women’s 12-kilometer sitting cross-country at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 11, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

Oksana Masters continued her podium run with a Bronze medal. In the men’s, Sean Halsted, a U.S. Air Force veteran and three-time Paralympian finished the race on the 22nd place out of a field of 27 men.

2018-03-11-02988.jpgOksana Masters crosses the finish line after racing in the women’s 12-kilometer sitting cross-country at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 11, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

Meanwhile, at the Gangneung Hockey Centre, the USA Sled Hockey team took to the ice to face Japan and a minute and one second into the match we had the game winner. Then it turned into a scoring party. 10-0. Brody Roybal lead the way in this one with a hat trick.

CJ6I6848One of Brody Roybal’s three goals against Japan in Team USA’s 10-0 win Sunday. PHOTO CREDIT: MIchael A. Clubine

Jen Lee picked up the shut out, with only two shots on goal. After the game, Head Coach Guy Gosselin praised his  first line which had a combined 5 goals:

“I think you know they are prepared to play. They utilize their speed better and use their skills to move the puck together,” explained Gosselin.

Forward Nikko Landeros who picked up two assists and had one goal stated, “Every Game is a gold medal game for us,” Nikko Landeros told reporters after the game, continuing, “We’re just trying our hardest and we are trying to get to the gold medal.”

Andrew Finds Paralympic Redemption on the Slopes Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

JEONGSEON, South Korea—Whether he is hanging out at the Paralympic village, doing interviews at the mixed zone or just out in the field of play racing ferociously the clock or his competitors on the course, you can easily spot Andrew Kurka, always smiling and with a great presence. Charismatic, charming and determined the native Alaskan, born and raised in a Russian village called Nikolaevsk, came to South Korea with one goal in mind: to find redemption from Sochi 2014. There he saw his chances to medal slipped away when he broke his back before the competition even began. After that he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to compete anymore. “I didn´t know if I was going continue to ski again, to chase this dream because I had all these several injuries” he said.

Danny Chin - Omega Photo StudiosAndrew Kurka at the welcoming ceremony at the Paralympic Village on March 8th. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

After a four-year fightback from rock bottom and despite the physical challenges the 26-year-old made an impressive comeback winning four world championships medals in the men’s sitting class, including his first world title and a three-medal performance in 2017 of what could be considered one of the most successful years of his entire career. This Saturday morning, he finally saw his Paralympic dreams come true and found redemption when he hit the podium at the Jeongseon Alpine Center, winning the well-deserved gold medal in the Men’s Downhill, sitting category on a course that seemed to be deteriorating as the day grew longer.

“This is redemption right here, I’m going to move forward with what I know how to do, I’m going to continue listening to my coaches, I’m going to keep the line on my text and going to my best, to be better tomorrow that I was today, that’s my goal, that´s my plan” he said.

AQ2I1350Andrew celebrates hid gold medal along with silver medalist Taiki Morii from Japan and Corey Peters from New Zealand, bronze. PHOTO CREDIT: Ken King

Yet, for the Paralympian the journey hasn’t been the easiest one. Growing up, Andrew knew deep inside he wanted to become a pro-athlete, taste the podiums, the glory, and collect the hard working efforts. That’s why he started to compete so young, at just 6 years of age, wrestling was the sport he chose, due to its popularity at the village, and soon enough he showed great promise became the one to beat. Traveling across the nation, competing in high-class junior championships.

But his aspirations to become an Olympian changed drastically at 13 when he became paralyzed from the waist down in an ATV accident while heading out on a fishing trip. He then was introduced to the sport of sit-down alpine skiing by a physical therapist while recovering from his spinal cord injury, from then on he knew immediately that skiing was his true passion. He became unstoppable in the field, but for him it has always been about the sportsmanship and how he can make a change rather than the titles or the medals.“The super G is coming tomorrow, and I need to keep moving forward this week, it’s not over for me, I’ve got more going, it´s not about the gold medal for me, the media is always surprised, I’m here to be the best person that I can be. If I got silver or bronze, I just would´ve learnt from it and focus on being better tomorrow” he said after the victory

When asked about his golden moment he said “The gold medal sunk in when I was out there with Corey Peters, in the middle of the snow and I looked left and I got to see my family standing there cheering, my mom waving at me, this is the first race that they see me compete in, and they were here.

For the new Paralympian champion is not only the accolades what drives him but the life experiences and the people he creates relationships with. For Andrew there’s always more to learn, to be or do “I get my inspiration and motivation from anyone who can overcome something”.

AQ2I1273Andrew looks at the stands where his mom Amy and brother Christian were cheering on him after the race. PHOTO CREDIT: Ken King
Team USA Curlers are Ready to Rock n' Roll in PyeongChang Print E-mail
Written by Josh Eisenberg   

GANGNEUNG, South Korea—–

Ask any American about the sport they feel like they could be a part of, be it in an Olympic or Paralympic setting, the answer more often than not, is “Curling”. In fact, some people in the media have labeled the movement winter, “Curling Fever”. For Team USA, it was more like Gold Fever for the men during the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics as they took home the top prize for the first time ever. This is a feat that the U.S. Paralympic team wants to imitate in their chance to play.

The team, which is like a large family, is lead by Captain Kirk Black, from San Antonio, Texas who team member Justin Marshall aka “The Little Brother” of the team calls, “The Grandfather”.

“Well Kirk our skip[per] is definitely a grandpa, and he’s probably the oldest on the team. I call him grandpa because I train with him all the time. Penny is definitely my sister on the team, keeping me on the straight and arrow, trying to keep me focused, Megan is my little sister god bless her… she’s older than me but just trying to care for her and look out for her and Emt is definitely the big loud one who we try to get to shut up,” Justin said jokingly.

WWhCC20176049.jpgTeam USA Prepares in Practice for their first match against host nation Korea (4:35 EST Saturday)

Marshall, 31, is also voted the “most quirky” one on the team says all of his cohorts. In fact, he wishes that his other teammates would joust him with their brooms using the wheelchairs. Along with joking and keeping it light at all times and making them say certain words at inappropriate times for laughs.

For the former UCONN basketball standout Steve Emt, a man who compares himself to an oak tree due to his strength and loud, deep, booming voice, he never imagined that his adventure of playing curling would ever happen more than 20 years ago, especially after the car accident that changed his life.

“You’re crazy”, Emt Said in reference to the question of whether someone 10 years ago would tell him he would be in PyeongChang today. He continued, “I mean,  I didn’t even know what Curling was until 5 years ago. I had my accident in 1995 and so I was still looking for something, that one sport that was competitive to fill the void.”

For Meghan Lino, AKA “Frodo”, which is a lord of the rings reference because she is the smallest of the group, what she doesn’t have in size she makes up for with huge heart. She is trying when not at the Paralympics in her home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts to get the wheelchair youth involved in curling:

“I help put on wheelchair clinics in my home area and every time somebody new comes, tell them ‘ you have to give it a try.’ and they will try.”

And trying is just what Penny Greely did when she first lost her leg in a train incident. On a complete whim she received an interest flyer in her Wisconsin town about curling 8 years ago. She went to the rink tried it out and never looked back. But she is never one to back down from a challenge or give one. In fact after the games, Greely said that she has challenged some pretty high profile candidates in curling:

“I challenged Aaron Rodgers to a match. Yes. I challenged him to come sweeping and he has not responded.”

So gauntlet has been laid down. Team USA is ready for all challengers from the world. The Curling team starts their preliminary matches against host country Korea at 2:35 PM Korea Time (4:35 AM EST) Saturday.

Winter Paralympics 2018: Opening Ceremony Dazzles with Passion for Movement Print E-mail
Written by Staff   

PYEONCHANG, South KoreaThe cold, foggy night was unable to stop the party that was forthcoming when a cast of thousands in attendance were watching from inside the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, while the rest of the world watched with bated breath at what was to come in the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Games. But even the below freezing temperatures it didn’t stop the venue to feel the warmth of the ‘flaming puck’ as the countdown broke out of the stadium’s screen.

At the start, fireworks screamed through the air, green lights filled the venue and the  countdown from 10 commenced. Video projected graphic flames came down a giant ramp, which would later see the torch climb to the top. It was finally time to go. There was no better way than a gong to make us stand at the ready. The message was loud and clear: be warned… Korea was in the house.

The theme for these games was “Passion Moves Us”,  which was omnipresent in every aspect of the ceremony, as well as in the climax of the welcome dance, the Ga-in Flower Dancers and the powerful dynamic of the Korean traditional Ban-go drum dance.

Danny Chin - Omega Photo StudiosThe ‘Sphere of Coexistence’ showed in the sky which symbolizes
the new world that understands and embraces differences. PHOTO CREDIT: D
anny Chin

Myeongjin Shin, a Korean triple amputee, was the main star of the show. The performer stole the crowd’s attention once he beated on the Giant Drum. The sound of it symbolized the connection between Heaven and Earth, initiating the thrilling festive atmosphere of the night. The show also featured a giant wheel, which acts as a symbol for coexistence in the world as we know it.

If there was a feeling of déjà vu in the air, it was for a good reason. It has been 30 years since South Korea hosted the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Seoul together for the first time in history.

Before Korea could enter it’s temple of athletics, the other delegations from the participating countries made their entry in the order of the Korean consonants. Placards leading each delegation were inspired by sotdae as a motif. “Sotdae” is an ancient symbol of birds, trees, and cloths that signify good news and prosperity.

For Team USA’s it was Mike Schultz, a para-snowboarder from Minnesota, who was chosen to be the flag bearer unanimously by his fellow athletes. Shultz was followed by the 74-member American team who with joy and contentment wore pridely the stars and stripes of the american flag.

1DX20001Team USA led by Michael Schultz into the Paralympic Opening Ceremony PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Clubine


Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stepped on stage to officially inaugurate the games by saying, “Without a dream, there is little hope. Seventy years ago this year, Sir Ludwig Guttmann gave hope to millions with his vision of creating opportunities for people with an impairment through sport.” he continued, “Today his dream is stronger than ever. Paralympic sport not only changes lives but also changes the world.”

As if all the passion in the the galaxy can be combined into one orbiting galaxy, the participants of the Pyeongchang 2018 opening ceremony collided to visually stun us to give us a universe of their own. A universe of passion, inclusion, equality and courage, it was a sphere of coexistent, and South Korea was at the center.

The subtext of the ceremony was once again a celebration of the sports excellence of the Paralympic movement. PyeongChang’s task for the upcoming days is not only to offer the greatest level of sports performance and competition but also to be able to be a catalyser for social change, a new world of equality and coexistence where there is no distinction of people by impairment but the recognition of differences.

A62V1067Paralympians and children complete together the Para-boat
which then moves forward, driven by the power of equipment
used in Paralympic games. PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Clubine

The Pinnacle of the event arrived when the fire reached the bottom of the ramp leading to the caldron and the torch was handed off midway to a climber, Min-Su Han, the Sled Hockey star known as “The Ice Tiger”who scaled the wall using his one leg reaching the top and passing to Soonseak Seo, a wheelchair curler who ignited the Paralympic flame.

As the Paralympic flame rose, signaled the finale, it reminded the audience of the game’s purpose dictated from the mouth of  the President of the Organizing Committee and CEO Lee Hee-beom said “My sincere hope […] is that the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games will serve the purpose of a cornerstone to create a caring-and-sharing society without discrimination and prejudice well beyond the values of peace and harmony, inspiration and jubilation”.

2018 Paralympics Coverage Print E-mail
Written by Orge Castellano   


Last night, the 2018 Winter Olympics came to a spectacular end and while we will miss the competitions and the athlete’s performances, the feats of athleticism and the greatness aren’t over just yet. The 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang are around the corner, starting March 9th and they promise to deliver even more ice- and snow-filled inspiration than ever before.

We are greatly honoured to be part of this remarkable experience once again. For the fourth time our team of journalists and photographers are heading to the Paralympics, this year in South Korea to cover the Games.  Through our images and stories we will portray the strength, determination and courage of the US Paralympic Team.


For the second time, the Paralympics will be hosted in South Korea. In 1988 the games for the first time in history took place right after the Olympics sharing the same venues and host.

With over 570 athletes from 49 countries, The 2018 Winter Paralympic Games is set to be the largest games in their history according to organizers. The games are scheduled to run from March 9th to the 18th featuring 5 venues located 115 miles East of Seoul, and includes other sub-host cities nearby.

Events span 10 days for a total of 80 medal events competing across six sports: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross-country skiing, Ice sled hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling. Disciplines include all the usual suspects, from the many variations of downhill and slalom skiing to snowboard cross and more.

As for our media team, this year we come with an incredible team consisting of a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds, all who share a common factor: their dedication and love for journalism, sports, and most importantly: their passion for the Paralympic movement and its social inclusion.

Meet our incredible volunteers:


Orge Castellano is a journalist who has participated in several international multi-sport events throughout his career. He’s covered the Olympics, the Paralympic games and worked for the International Judo Federation in various cups around Eastern Europe. With an insatiable thirst for culture and politics, Orge is an avid reader and writer. Currently, he is undergoing his PhD studies in Journalism at the University of the Basque Country in Spain.


Michael Clubine He is the WSF Media team lead for the 2018 and 2016 Paralympic Games, as well as a contributing photographer at the 2014 and 2016 Paralympic Games, in Sochi and Rio respectively. Michael is a freelance photographer with a passion for capturing the excitement of a moment.  He has covered the Open tennis tournament and the 2015 World Sled Hockey Championships. When he’s not busy photographing adaptive sports, Michael focuses his lens on runway fashion, covering New York Fashion Week, as well as shows from leading bridal, swimwear and children fashion designer.

Image uploaded from iOS

Vandana Sood-Giddings completed her Masters in Mass Communication from New Delhi, India and has an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College, CUNY.  She is an independent documentary filmmaker who has worked for several companies like MTV, FOX’s Beliefnet, PBS and the WHO. She teaches yoga, does freelance journalism and social media strategy for various clients.


Josh Eisenberg is documentarian, teacher and is a man who loves his sports. He was the sports beat writer for the Hunts Point Express in 2016-2017 and he covered baseball and soccer. Josh excited and is looking forward to covering the Sled Hockey team at this year’s Paralympics in South Korea, as he is a huge hockey fan. He expects the games to be fun and exciting every step of the way, while writing articles that will make America proud.


Matthew Gephart lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is spending his third year with the WSF team after working in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Paralympics. Contributing as a writer for the WSF has allowed Matthew to soar to new heights ever since leaving Penn State in 2007 with a telecommunications degree and minor in theatre.  Matthew has spent time writing for various sports outlets and is excited to bring his talents to another year of the Paralympic Games. Looking forward to the Sled Hockey’s quest for back-to-back gold’s is on Matthew’s list of things to watch in Pyeongchang this year. For his day job, Matthew works for MLB Advanced Media.


Danny Chin is a freelance editorial and commercial photographer based out of New York City. From the fashion runways of New York City to remote island photoshoots in Thailand, Danny’s ambition is to capture and freeze a continuously moving world. When not occupied with his camera, he enjoys traveling and trying new foods. 

Here at the WSF we couldn’t be more excited and thrilled about Pyeongchang, please Join the conversation on Twitter @WSFederation and follow real-time full coverage on Instagram and Facebook page.

The countdown begins!  Go to this site for a list of all the athletes.  https://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Features/2018/February/26/2018-US-Paralympic-Team-Named

Good Luck and GO USA! 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 February 2018 17:29
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