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.
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."
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 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.
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
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.