Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Sochi Paralympics for Day 7 Print E-mail
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US Earns First Gold In A Day of Wins  

Written By Brian Rank

 

SOCHI, Russia – Team USA earned its first gold medal of the 2014 winter Paralympics with a stunning sweep of the first-ever Paralympic snowboarding event. Alpine skiing earned two slivers and a bronze and the biathlon team made a strong showing.  


Team USA now has 16 medals comprised of one gold, seven silver and 8 bronze.


Below are recaps from the day’s events.    


Alpine Skiing

Heath Calhoun won his first paralympic medal and a silver at that. He earned second in the sitting super-G after having a great third run that pulled him from fourth to second. Mark Bathum and guide Cade Yamamoto won silver in visually impaired super-G, their second medal of the Games.


“I’ll admit I was a little nervous coming into this because we had a lot of time to make up," Bathum said. "I will say that we came out with the afterburners on and we were after it today.”


In the women’s super combined super-G event rescheduled from Wednesday, Stephanie Jallen took bronze in the standing category with a time of 2:23.13.


Danelle Umstead and guide Rob Umstead won bronze in the visually impaired super-G


“It is nice to get our first medal of the week," Umstead said. "I wish we had gone a little bit faster, but we did our best. We fought in the slalom where the conditions were a little intense, and we made it to the finish there. And to finish in third through the super combined was super nice.”


Jamie Stanton finished 13th in the men’s standing slalom.


Laurie Stevens did not compete today because of illness.


Para-Snowboarding

It was a good day for the USA who earned bronze in the women’s competition and swept the men’s – earning the US its first gold medal of the paralympics. In an event riddled with crashes, team USA found its balance during the three-run snowboard-cross event. Filling the podium for the US were Evan Strong with gold, Michael Shea with silver, Keith Gabel with bronze for the men. And Amy Purdy with bronze for the women.


“Today is a dream," Strong said. "I’m so ecstatic, I’m over the moon, I don’t even feel like my feet are on the ground right now. This course is super fun, you can generate a lot of speed, but it is super challenging. To be able to pull this [sweep] off is just a testimony to the United States’ training, to our coaches and what we’ve’ been working on all year long. The U.S. snowboard team, we’re all best friends, we all encourage each other and we want everybody to go faster. We are in love with our sport.”

Biathlon

The US finished the biathlon competitions for the week with multiple top-10 wins, showing a strong effort for the team.


Andy Soule finished fourth with a perfect shooting record for the race and the games overall, going 50 for 50.  


“I just have to race within myself and not worry about what anyone else is doing because I can’t control it. I’ve put together a lot of good races in these Games,” he said.


Dan Cnossen finished 10th with a time of 48:27.8 – his best of the games.


“It’s a good takeaway for me because as a biathlete I am still developing,” Cnossen said. “Today I learned to focus on the skiing, ski hard when I can, but then relax in the range and to not do anything different.”


Omar Bermejo finished 17th and Kevin Burton placed 12th in the visually impaired 12 km race.


“I think I skied really well, missed six shots, so that could have used some improvement,” Burton said. “But I think this was probably one of my best races that I’ve had if not the best race I’ve had out here so far. I’m happy with it.“


In the 15 km event, Sean Halsted placed 11th, Jeremy Wagner, Aaron Pike and Travis Dodson  finished 18th, 19th and 21st, respectively.



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.


PHOTO CAPTIONS:
 Omar Bermejo
photo by Katie Harris
"Omar Bermejo starts his 15km Men's Standing Biathlon."
 
 Kevin Burton
photo by Carter Farmer
"Kevin Burton uses headphones to direct his shot during the 15km Vision Impaired Biathlon."
Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 21:50
 
Men’s Snowboarding Sweeps Podium, Amy Purdy Takes Bronze Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 

Written by Eric Gissendanner 
Photos by Ken King

The United States wasted no time in asserting which country would dominate the snowboarding slopes on Friday. Making its Paralympic debut, the snowboard cross event saw a clean sweep by the Americans, as Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii) took gold, while Mike Shea (Castaic, Calif.) grabbed silver and Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) captured bronze. The trio gave the United States its first Paralympic Winter Games sweep since the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Today also marked the first time in U.S. history that men swept all three podium spots in a single event. The men were not alone, though, as Amy Purdy (Las Vegas, Nev.) sealed up the bronze medal on the women’s side.


Coming into the event, the United States fielded a full team of five men and five women snowboarders. Each athlete takes three solo runs down the hill and each individual’s best-two timed runs determines overall placement.

As the men’s competition progressed, the question was not if the United States would medal, but how many times? On the men’s side, Shea and Strong battled over the top spot. Shea’s first run of 52.29 was the best among the initial runs, but Strong responded by besting his American competitor (and the whole field) with a second run of 51.62. Strong’s second-run posting gave him a 0.01 lead heading into the third and final heat. By comparison, Shea registered a 51.89 second run. Not to be left out, Gabel recorded a first run of 54.02, and then a second run of 53.61.


That all set the suspense for a decisive third heat to crown a champion. Strong continued to impress, clocking in at 51.99, while Shea slipped to a 1:00.27. By far his slowest run of the day, Shea had to rely on his opening two runs, but that was not enough as Strong took the gold by a 0.57 second differential. Meanwhile, Gabel remained third, as he stayed under the 54-second mark in two of his three runs. This trio was joined by Tyler Burdick (Salt Lake City, Utah) who recorded an eighth place finish in 1:52.49, while Daniel Monzo (Glenwood, N.J.) took home 18th in 2:07.52.


On the women’s side, five Americans registered top-10 results. Purdy’s best two runs combined for a 2:14.29 time, while Cristina Albert (Holladay, Utah) clocked in at 2:35.26. Heidi Jo Duce (Winter Park, Col.) was fifth in 2:37.43, Nicole Roundy (Salt Lake City, Utah) came in eighth at 2:59.57, and Megan Harmon (Salt Lake City, Utah)rounded out the top-10 in 3:31.09.


Today’s accolades gave the United States its first gold medal of this year’s Paralympics. The Americans had six silver medals coming into the day until Strong and Shea changed all that.

About the Author: Eric Gissendanner 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.


PHOTO CAPTION:
photo by Ken King
"Michael Shea gets some air during the first ever Paralympic Snowboarding competition."
Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 21:26
 
Spectators Gain Heartfelt Experiences During the Paralympics in Sochi Print E-mail
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by Matthew Gephart

photos by Katie Harris


SOCHI, Russia - Spectators were given the chance outside the Curling Centre and inside the Shabaya Center this week to see what it was like to participate in the Sled Hockey and Wheelchair Curling competitions.  This was a very popular spot to stop while spending time at the Olympic Park and allows the chance for some education about what it is like to participate in such events.

 

It is important to make sure that young spectators can experience the perseverance and determination it takes to compete in the sports happening in Sochi this year, especially when the ability to complete daily tasks can be taken for granted by those without physical  impairments.  

A small goal and Sled were available for participants to literally take a seat into the life of a Sled Hockey player and get a feel for shooting and just the balance needed alone.  Many have enjoyed the experience and take it to heart while being able to feel such quarrels these Olympians face every day.  

On the opposite side, participants were able to feel the stones weight as it slides along a mock ice sheet with targets like the house on a real sheet in the Curling Centre.  Many participants found it difficult to place the stones in the center of the house closest to the button, while some were successful after their first and second throws becoming more comfortable with the curl of the stones.  

Many folks left happy and excited having had the chance to share the experiences with Olympians during the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.


About the Author: Matthew 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. 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.

PHOTO CAPTION:
Photo by Katie Harris
"Spectators were given the chance outside the Curling Centre and inside the Shabaya Center this week to see what it was like to participate in the Sled Hockey and Wheelchair Curling competitions."
Last Updated on Saturday, 15 March 2014 16:50
 
USA Sled Hockey Goes for Gold against Russia on NBC 3-15-2014 at 1 pm Print E-mail
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USA to Defend Their Gold Medal Against Russia
by Eric Gissendanner
Photo by Ken King

SOCHI —The United States sled hockey overcame its first major hurdle —soundly beating Canada, 3-0. The Americans now play in a not-so-surprising gold medal game, but against a surprising opponent: Russia. When the United States and Russia take to the iceSaturday at noon Eastern Time, both teams will be met by a thunderous hometown crowd.


America seeks its third gold medal in 12 years, while Russia has never medaled (this is Russia's first time having a sled hockey team in the Paralympics). America’s average player age is 24.1 years-old, while Russia’s is 29.5 years-old. Both teams are 3-2 in the Paralympic tournament so far, and both teams shutout their semifinal opponent to reach the gold medal game.


Throw out all the numbers, though, and focus on the fact that it is the United States against Russia. We are past the Cold War and the Miracle on Ice is now 34 years ago. Regardless of what was, the hype now surrounds what is. Saturday is for the gold in the premiere event of the Winter Paralympics. The host nation battles a foe that seeks to defend its Vancouver dominance en route to the top podium spot.


Whether it is out of passion or curiosity toward the sport, watch Saturday’s game. Months of preparation build up to a final 45 minutes to determine which team and which country chose the right players, set the right lines and executed the right plays needed for the title as the world’s best. 

Schedules for viewing the last events of the 2014 Winter Paralympics are as follows:

Saturday March 15, 2014
Ice Sled Hockey Gold Medal Game on NBC 1:00 PM - 3: PM Eastern (Taped) - USA v Russia
Cross Country Skiing on NBCSN at 3:30 AM - 5:30 AM Eastern (Live)
Wheelchair Curling Final on NBCSN at 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM Eastern (Taped)

Sunday March 16, 2014
Alpine Skiing (Giant Slalom) NBCSN 4:30A - 6:30A (Live)
Closing Ceremony NBCSN 3:30P - 5:30P (Taped)

More information on the viewing schedule can be found here:

About the Author: Eric Gissendanner 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, visitwww.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.

PHOTO CAPTION:
by Ken King
"Farmer Goes After the Puck to Defeat Canada"
Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 22:01
 
Sochi Paralympics for Day 6 Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
 
 
Sled Hockey Advances, Curling Ends Season Strong
Written By Brian Rank
Photos by Ken King

 

SOCHI, Russia – Team USA dominated Canada in a play-off shutout on Thursday, continuing to the final Saturday. Wheelchair curling saw their Games end with a loss to Great Britain and US alpine had a strong fourth-place finish in the visually impaired slalom.


Below are recaps from the day’s events.    


Wheelchair Curling

In a close game that resulted in a tie at the 8th end, Great Britain was defeated team USA in a overtime end 8-7. The US looked like it would carry the game unitil GB smashed into play with  five points in the fifth end, leading to a tie at the end of the match. The tie-breaking win by GB pushed the play-offs out of reach for team USA after China won their game against Great Britain, placing China in the semi-finals along with Canada, Russian Federation and GB.  


USA wheelchair curling ends their Paralympic Games in fifth place with a 9-4 record.



Alpine Skiing

Mark Bathum and guide Cade Yamamoto earned the best time for the USA in alpine skiing, coming in fourth in visually impaired slalom with just one second between them and third place.


“My slalom needs a lot of work," Bathum said. "The effort was there but the execution may not have been there. As good as a guide as Cade is, he is an even better coach. He had me skiing a couple of great days of slalom this year but I was not able to replicate that here on the hill today. Slalom is a heck of a lot of fun, we had a blast out there today."


Gerald Hayden got 11th in the men’s sitting class after recovering from a fall on the run. Ralph Green got 17th in the standing slalom.


The International Paralympic Committee announced that Anna Schaffelhuber of Germany had successfully appealed her disqualification from Wednesday's sitting slalom, resulting in Laurie Stephens being knocked back to fourth from third.  


Sled Hockey

Team USA made a statement with a major shutout of rival team Canada, 3-0. The US starting strong, scoring twice in the first period and adding a third score in the second. Canada rarely got a chance of scoring with the relentless USA defense never letting them near the goal.


"I have a lot of confidence in my forwards and my team," head coach Jeff Sauer said. "The fact that if they play the way they can, and if they move the way they can, it's very difficult to stay with us, and I thought we showed that tonight."


The win puts the US in the Paralympic final against Russia on Saturday.


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.

 

Photo by Michael A. Clubine

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 March 2014 16:52
 
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