Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Sochi Paralympics for Day 1 Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 

US Debuts Strong On Snow And Ice

Written By Brian Rank                                                                           

SOCHI, Russia – The first day of competition at the Paralympics swung into action with events in Wheelchair Curling, Sled Hockey, Alpine Skiing and Biathlon, the latter two had medal events.

Team USA came out strong on the slopes, earning a silver and two bronze in women’s alpine skiing. In sled hockey, the US dealt Italy a dominating 51 decision, while in wheelchair curling team USA slipped to 02 against Korea. Two fourth place finishes rounded out a solid performance for US sitting biathlon. The Russian Federation lead the day in medals with 12 total including four gold. The US earnedthree total, one silver and two bronze . Below are recaps from today’s events.

Wheelchair Curling

After a promising preseason, team USA finished the first day of a nine game round robin with a disappointing 64 loss to Slovakia in round one and a 95 loss to South Korea in round two. The US is still hopeful for success later in the week for a place in the semifinals on Saturday. "It wasn't a really great day for us," team member Jimmy Joseph said. "I'd rather be 20 instead of 02, but that's the way the stone turns. We're not out of it yet. I've seen teams come back from 04.  Everyone's not going to win every game. We're going to have a great, great rest of the week."

Biathlon

Two US sitskiers earned a solid fourth place finish today. Andy Soule made perfect scores in shooting but was 2.9 seconds shy of Japan’s Kozo Kubo at 21:48:5. Okansa Masters made her Winter Paralympic debut by wowing her teammates as she nearly earned bronze at her first event. She finished just 3.6 seconds short of a place on the podium at 19:43:2 “I am very happy with my race today. This was a really good surprise to start the Games for me,” she said.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine skiers won all of team USA’s three medals on Saturday. Alana Nicols won silver in the women’s sitting race and Laurie Stephens took bronze. Allison Jonze earned bronze in the

women’s standing class and Danielle Umstead also got bronze in the women’s visually impaired competition. The men’s sitting class event saw multiple crashes on the course including Tyler Walker who was transported off the slope by helicopter. He was later listed as in stable condition. Sled Hockey

The US sled hockey team made it clear that they are the team to beat with a 51 routing of Italy Saturday. The defending Paralympic champions dominated throughout the game, allowing Brody  Roybal to score two goals and goaltenders Steve Cash and Jen Lee to make 11 stops overall.  Team USA continues its quest for a consecutive gold against South Korea today at 8:30 am ET.

Other News

Jon Kreamelmeyer, the retired Paralympic Nordic Skiing coach, was inducted into the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame. He served as coach from 1998 to 2006, helping his athletes win 11

medals.

About the Author: Brian Rank is a member of the Wheelchair Sports Federation media team reporting on events at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The all volunteer media team consists of professional writers and photographers who are donating their time and expertise to showcase the athleticism of disabled U.S. athletes and highlight their world class achievements in adaptive sports. Some members of the media team are former Paralympians and wheelchair users/amputees.

 

Opening Day Woes for the Wheelchair Curling Team

Written by Matt Gephart

SOCHI, Russia – Day one has come to a close here at the Paralympics center stage for 000Wheelchair Curling. It was not a good day for the US team, dropping two losses in the first

round robin session at the Ice Cube Curling Center.  The team kicked off the event early on Saturday, opening up the competition against Slovakia. After losing the first end by two stones and the second end by one stone, the team began to gain a little traction for the next two ends, scoring one point for each round and drawing the lead down to one. The effort was cut short during the fifth and sixth rounds losing a point each round to the Slovakians, who increased their lead to three.

One final push was made during the seventh round when the US team was able to place two stones and bring the session to 54 in favor of the Slovakians. Going into the final end hopes were high for the US team, coming back from a three stone deficit and feeling the win within grasp. After all was said and done, the Slovakians were able to place one stone to make a final score of 64 in favor of Slovakia.

For the United States’ second session of the day, they were plotted against the Korean Team, who won the silver medal during the last Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010. Coming into this year’s Paralympics the Korean team is ranked sixth in the world, making this quite a duel and a bit more of a challenge for our US team. The expectation for this session versus the Koreans was a giant question mark after they were blanked by Norway during their first session. Norway is said to be the favorite for gold this year, and faces the United States during their third session of the round robin. Korea came out on all cylinders placing three stones in the first end but none in the second end where the US was only able to make up one point on the scoreboard. The third end went to Korea, again placing three stones putting them ahead of the US team by five points. Now it was the US Teams end to shine, and despite not having the hammer for this end, they were able to place an astounding three stones closest to the button. This brought the score to 64 in favor of the Koreans, but not out of reach for the US Team. Despite having a great fourth end, hammer in hand, the fifth end did not go as planned for the US. Korea was able to place two stones after a mere miss by the US Team trying to split two stones from the center ring, bringing the score to 84.

Again finding themselves trying to fight from behind, the US was able to gain just one stone in the sixth end bringing the score to 85 with two ends left in the session. All eyes were on the US Team as they once again had the hammer for the seventh end. Despite their efforts, they were unable to place any stones inside Korea’s one point bringing the team to concede the eighth end, and surrender another loss to the competition, bringing the current record to 02 for the Paralympics.

About the Author: Matt Gephart is a member of the Wheelchair Sports Federation media team reporting on events at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The all volunteer media team consists of professional writers and photographers who are donating their time and expertise to showcase the athleticism of disabled U.S. athletes and highlight their world class achievements in adaptive sports. Some members of the media team are former Paralympians and wheelchair users/amputees.

 

Any Jet Lag is Lost as Team USA Defeats Italy in Sled Hockey

Written by Mike Doyle

SOCHI, Russia – The appearance that Team USA had been affected by travel disappeared between the warm-ups and game time. The crowd rallied every time Team Italy moved the puck even close to the red line and became even more raucous any time the Italians controlled play inside the USA end.

The first period started with some quality chances from both teams. Italy continued showing good team defense and USA showed they could fore-check against the structured get-out. First trip to the penalty box was ITA #14 Bruno Balossetti for holding less than 3-minutes into the game. USA dominated during the resulting power play until USA #9 Andy Yohe (Bettendorf IA) also got caught holding an opponent just as the United States power play was expiring. The period continued pitting Team USA speed and fore-checking against the Italian methodical defense. Persistence paid dividends for USA at the 13:45 mark when newcomer #6 Declan Farmer (Tampa FL) scored with a little help from #19 Taylor Chase (Hampton Falls NH) passing from the point to #15 Nikko Landeros (Johnstown CO), who performed a “spin-o-ramma” pass to the aforementioned Farmer who shoveled it in from the low slot. First period statistics included one minor penalty for Team USA three for ITA; shots on goal were six for the former and five for the latter.

Period two started with USA #15 trying to leave the ice early; Landeros was checked into the USA bench door which was not properly closed. A dangerous situation without any serious consequences.  At the 16:32 mark (1-minute, 32-seconds into the second stanza) Italy was caught with too many men on the ice – six men (and six legs) out on the ice. They were able to weather the storm and burned off the penalty by icing the puck several times. Team USA #23 Rico Roman (Portland OR) was sent to the “sin bin” exactly two minutes after the Team Italy penalty expired. By this time Italy was looking a little spent and Team USA was able to control play, albeit a man down. Exactly four minutes after the Roman penalty expired Team USA uncorked a second goal. Tally was credited to the other newcomer, Brody Roybal (Northlake IL) and assisted by Farmer. Italy finished the second period a man down after #69 Giuseppe Condello was called for “teeing”.

Third period start found #19 Chase in the box for “teeing” as he was stopping a breakaway. Back to some five-on-five hockey and Team USA was relieved to get a third period marker just over three minutes in from #13 Josh Sweeney (Phoenix AZ) who had some help from the Italian defenseman. Team

USA put the match out-of-touch for Italy with just under 10-minutes left Roybal netted his second in twoperiods with some help from #27 Josh Pauls (Green Brook NJ) and Landeros. USA called a time out to relieve #34 Steve Cash (Overland, MO) from his perfect 15-shot save performance and give back-up netminder #1 Jen Lee (San Francisco CA) some between-the-pipes time. USA was able to fend off a late Italian assault while killing off #28 Paul Schaus (Buffalo NY) roughing minor at 41:28 (11-minute, 28-seconds into the third period). Just four seconds later ITA completed the assault by beating net minder Lee after a defensive zone breakdown lead to an unassisted goal by #6 Gianluca Calvaliere. With only five-seconds left Schaus was able to regain the four point advantage assisted by Landeros.

About the Author: Mike Doyle is a member of the Wheelchair Sports Federation media team reporting on events at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The all volunteer media team consists of professional writers and photographers who are donating their time and expertise to showcase the athleticism of disabled U.S. athletes and highlight their world class achievements in adaptive sports. Some members of the media team are former Paralympians and wheelchair users/amputees. 

Last Updated on Monday, 10 March 2014 20:24
 
Pageantry & Controversy Mark The Opening of 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Written by Brian Rank 
Photos by Michael Clubine and Ken King

 

SOCHI, Russia – In a spectacle of ice, fire and jubilation, the Sochi Winter Paralympics opened on Friday. The ceremony showcased Russia’s effort to prove it is renewed and ready to welcome the Paralympians after a history of intolerance toward people with disabilities.  


The flawless ceremony that displayed Russia’s rich history and culture created an elated atmosphere inside Fisht Olympic Stadium, but could not keep out the uncomfortable realities building outside. The tense international climate around Putin’s involvement in Ukraine and Russia’s controversial stance on homosexuality made their way into the proceedings in sometimes less-than-subtle words and actions.


But for most of the attendees, it was a night for celebrating the athletes from 45 nations that had made it this far and who will be competing for the 72 medals over the next week.

One of the most symbolically important moments of the night was when Russian Federation President, Vladimir Putin, entered the stadium and shook hands with International Paralympic Committee President, Sir Philip Craven. The greeting stood in stark contrast to the former Soviet Union’s refusal to host the Paralympic Games following the 1980 Olympics in Moscow claiming there were no people with disabilities in Russia.


Sir Craven recognized Russia’s progress since the Moscow Olympics in his speech during the ceremony.


“Tonight is a very special occasion, tonight is proof that what might not seem possible, is possible,” he said.   


He later lauded Russia for making Sochi accessible to the athletes, and, in what seemed to be a veiled reference to the Russian Duma’s recent passage of a controversial law banning the spreading of “homosexual propaganda” to children, said, “In the same way that the city of Sochi has built a barrier-free environment for athletes and officials to enjoy, I call upon all those who experience these Games to have barrier-free minds too.”


During a video played at the ceremony explaining the creation of the Paralympic movement by Ludwig Guttmann in 1948, the narrator, actor Ian Mckellan, a gay man, stated that the Paralympics is about equality regardless of sexual orientation.  

The main event of the night was the Parade of Nations, when the delegations from 45 nations entered the stadium bearing their country's flag to cheers from the crowd. This year saw three nations competing for the first time at the winter paralympics: Brazil, which will host the 2016 summer Games; Turkey and Uzbekistan.


A somewhat surprising delegation present was Ukraine. A country that’s recently instated government is not recognized by Russia and to where Putin has allegedly sent troops to protect Russian-speaking citizens in the Crimea peninsula.  


Ukraine has 23 athletes competing but chose to send just one athlete out to the Parade of Nations as the others apparently waited outside in protest. Nordic skier Michael Tkachenko entered the stadium to an eruption of cheers, his face stolid as he made his way through the arena. His movements were watched by President Putin who was overseeing the parade, a scenario not unlike the current situation in Ukraine.


Both the U.S. and U.K. did not send political delegations to the Games in protest of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Their athletes are still attending.


Politics aside, the pageantry of the evening was something to be marvelled.  


The ceremony, titled ‘Breaking the Ice,’ was an elegant exposition of Russian art and culture. Dancers opened the ceremony with an intricately choreographed representation of the Russian Federation flag followed by a sampling of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy played on a glass organ accompanied by a crowd of young ballerinas.


Throughout the performances appeared representations of the Firebird, a mythical creature in Slavic folklore and one of the mascots of the winter Games. The shape of the Paralympic torch is modeled after a Firebird’s feather.


The crowning moment of the performance came after the Parade of Nations when an enormous model of an ice breaker ship lumbered into the stadium, topped by famed opera soprano and honorary IPC board member Maria Guleghina. Guleghina sang a “Cossack Lullaby” as the vessel floated across a frozen sea made of dancers bearing ice-like fragments.


The ceremony concluded in spectacular fashion as the Paralympic flame entered the stadium, carried by paralympians to the Sochi paralympic torch that was lit with a massive display of pyrotechnics.

The ceremonies kick off a week of games that continue from March 8 to 16. US audiences can see the events on NBC, NBC Sports Network or streaming onwww.nbcsports.com.


About the Author: Brian Rank is a member of the Wheelchair Sports Federation media team reporting on events at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.  The all-volunteer media team consists of professional writers and photographers who are donating their time and expertise to showcase the athleticism of disabled U.S. athletes and highlight their world class achievements in adaptive sports.  Some members of the media team are former Paralympians and wheelchair users/amputees. The Wheelchair Sports Federation is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for the disabled and wheelchair-bound adults and youth to play sports recreationally and competitively.  For more information, visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 March 2014 23:57
 
Sled Hockey at Yankee Stadium Print E-mail
Written by Susan Calise   
 
 
Not many people would think of going to a baseball stadium in the dead of winter, especially after record breaking snowfall and frigid temperatures!  But, that is exactly what the NY Sled Rangers and their families did on February 6, 2014! 
 
The NY Yankees opened up their stadium this winter season to ice skaters and hockey players and  hosted the Stadium Series between NY Rangers/NJ Devils and NY Rangers/NY Islanders (both games went to the Rangers!).  And among these events they also opened the rink up to the NY Sled Rangers Kids team for a family skate followed by a game with the adult team vs the Philadelphia Flyers Sled Hockey team, with the Flyers edging out the Rangers. 
 
Despite the freezing temperatures, it was a fabulous night with all the players and their families out on the ice.  The kids worked a little on their speed and puck handling skills and the family members had a great time skating with their players. After the hour of skating the Yankees served hot chocolate and everyone got a chance to socialize in the comfort of the indoors.  Overall everyone had a great time.  Whether a Yankee fan or a hockey fan or just a fan of ice skating, this was truly a once in a lifetime experience!
Last Updated on Friday, 28 February 2014 22:48
 
Night of a Thousand Smiles Print E-mail
Written by Sue Calise   

 

Over 300 people braved the dismal winter weather on Wednesday night to come out and support the Wheelchair Sports Federation’s Sled Rangers at Bryant Park in New York City.  Despite a day of freezing rain, mountains of slush and puddles as deep as rivers at every street crossing, Bryant Park’s Winter Village was a true winter wonderland, an oasis of white and crystalline beauty amongst the gray backdrop of midtown Manhattan.  And in the middle of all this were the glowing smiles of kids and adults skating both in sleds and on traditional skates.  The purpose of this revelry was to raise funds and awareness of the sport of sled hockey (Adaptive Ice Hockey) and to highlight the local team, The New York Sled Rangers.  The Sled Rangers are made up of 24 kids from ages 5 to 22 with varying levels of mobility impairments.  Some have Cerebral Palsy, some Spina Bifida, but all some type of physical disability that makes getting around during a routine day difficult.  Get them out on the ice and it is a very different story.  Here you see their natural competiveness, camaraderie and overall their true ability to shine like any other kids playing a sport that they love.

 

This night could not have been possible without the support of our many generous sponsors: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Pine River Capital Management, Glenview Capital Management, Citi, JP Morgan, Nomura, Credit Suisse, RBC Capital Markets, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies, Pinehouse Capital, RBS, and Upsilon Ventures.

 

We would also like to thank our fabulous MC, Ezra Night for coming out and kindly donating his time, our expert auctioneer, Alistair Nichol and our ubiquitous photographer, Matt Petosa. 

 www.wsfsledrangers.com 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 22:00
 
Sled Hockey in NYC Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   
Last Updated on Monday, 03 March 2014 07:32
 
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