Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Sochi Paralympics for Day 8 Print E-mail
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Team USA Earns Medal, 5 Top-10 Finishes On Last Day Of Games

Written By Brian Rank and Picture by Katie Harris

SOCHI, Russia – On the last day of competition at the WInter Paralympics, team USA picked up a bronze finished with eight top-10 finishes in cross-country and alpine skiing. The Games concluded on Sunday with a stunning closing ceremony that featured member of the back-to-back champion sled hockey team Steve Cash as flag-bearer for team USA.


The USA earned 18 medals total at the end of the games comprised of 2 gold, 7 silver and 9 bronze.


Below are recaps from the day’s events.    


Alpine Skiing

Team USA Finished strong in downhill with three top-ten finishes. Alana Nichols placed fourth in women’s giant slalom sitting class, followed by Laurie Stephens in sixth. In standing class, Allison Jones placed fourth followed by Melanie Schwartz in 14th. Stephanie Jallen was 5th in her first run, but did not finish the second.


In visually impaired class, Staci Mannella finished sixth.


Cross-Country

It was a good closing for the US nordic team with five top-10 finishes and a bronze.


Oksana Masters completed her stellar debut at the winter Paralympics with a bronze in the 5 km sitting class. Tatyana McFadden got 7th followed by Monica Bascio in 16th and Beth Requist in 19th.


Andrew Soule earned ninth in the men’s 10 km sitting class followed by Daniel Cnossen in 10th. Aaron Pike, Sean Halsted, Jeremy Wagner and Travis Dodson earned 14th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd respectively.


In the 10 km visually impaired, Jacob Adicoff earned 7th and Kevin Burton came in 15th. In the standing class, Omar Bermejo earned 29th and John Oman came in 32nd.


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 th
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 18:35
 
Sochi Paralympics for Day 7 Print E-mail
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US Sled Hockey Makes History, Skiers Earn Good Placements   

Written By Brian Rank. Ralph Green in photo taken by Michael A. Clubine

 

SOCHI, Russia – USA sled hockey defeated Russia in a dramatic game to become Paralympic champions for the second year in a row. Alpine skiers made strong performances and cross-country skiers were able to enter two teams in the the new Paralympic relay event.


Team USA now has 17 medals comprised of two gold, seven silver and 8 bronze.


Below are recaps from the day’s events.    


Sled Hockey

Team USA become the first to win consecutive paralympic sled hockey championships in a fierce game against Russia. Both teams maintained strong defense, allowing only a few goal attempts until the second frame when Josh Sweeney slapped the puck past Russian goaltender Vladimir Kamantcev at 9:28.


"I saw the defender, he had the puck and I just went after him," Sweeney said. "I did a little fake because that's what you want to do when you're up against a goalie that good. It wasn't anything that my other teammates couldn't have done."


The US was able to keep the Russians at bay for the rest of the game to win 1-0.


Alpine Skiing

On day 8 of competition team USA  came out skiing strong and many times seemed to just miss the podium. Heath Calhoun finished sixth in the giant slalom with just two-hundredths of a second off of the leader’s time.


“Overall its been a great trip," Calhoun said. "I skied well here, it was my plan to be about as good as I've ever been here, and I feel like I at least came really close or accomplished my goals, so I'm happy. I keep talking about it, but it's really tough competition in our field. The guys throw down, and I’m happy to be competing with them, happy to be here."   


Jasmin Bambur finished 17th in the race after a crash on the second run that he was able to overcome to finish the race. Both Chris Devlin-Young and Scott Meyer crashed and were not able to complete the event.


In men’s standing class, Ralph Green finished 16th, his best of the games. Joel Hunt and Tyler Carter finished 24th and 25th respectively.


James Stanton did not finish the event after crashing on his second run, though he came in 13th on his first. Jon Lujan crashed on his first run and had to be transported off by sled, he later wrote in Twitter that he had sustained new damage on his knee.


In visually impaired slalom, Mark Bathum and guide Cade Yamamoto did not finish after a crash on the first run.



Cross-Country

Team USA entered a team in the 4x2.5 km mixed relay and a team in the 4x2.5 km open relay  – two events new for the Paralympics – and made a strong effort. But the US coaches said the mere fact that they were able to field two teams in the race was what made the day a success.


“The most important thing today for us as a nation is that we got to field two full relay teams,” John Farra, director of high performance for the U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing program, said. “Team relays are such a great way to bring the team together. We all did face paint today and really felt like Team USA, I am really proud of how the guys performed.”


The mixed relay teams must include two to four competitors and at least one woman.The US team was comprised of sit-skier Tatyana McFadden, who skied the first and third legs of the relay and visually impaired skier Jake Adicoff and guide Reid Pletcher who skied the second and fourth legs. The team finished sixth with an overall time of 29:06.7. Russia won the event with a time of 27:35.6.


“I personally love the team aspect, because you try just that much harder for the team,” Pletcher said. “It’s not just about you; it’s about doing anything you can and giving your last bit of energy for the team.”


In the open relay, teams can be from 2 to four competitors but do not require a female participant. The US mixed team was comprised of Kevin Burton, Omar Bermejo, Augusto Perez and Bryan Price. The team finished 9th with a time of 29:58.3. Russia won the race with a time of 24:22.8.


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 Tuesday, 18 March 2014 18:37
 
US Sled Hockey Wins GOLD in Sochi! Print E-mail
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GOLD OR BUST
US Defends Their Gold Medal Against Russian Sled Hockey Team
Written by Eric Gissendanner
Photos by Ken King

SOCHI — “Gold or Bust” had been the year-long mantra for the United States sled hockey team. Saturday night, the team followed through by beating Russia, 1-0, for the gold medal. The U.S. defended its gold from Vancouver in 2010, while also becoming the first country to win three gold medals.


Aided by Josh Sweeney’s unassisted goal at 9:28 of the second period, the U.S. relied on its defense to stifle a Russian squad that entered the game with the second-most tournament goals at 16. Three days earlier, Russia defeated the U.S., 2-1, in a preliminary round game. That win propelled the host nation to a top-seed in the pool, while the U.S. held steady in second.


All records, for what those are worth, were tossed out as the final four teams battled in a single-elimination format for the gold. Russia beat Norway, and then the U.S. knocked off Canada. That set the stage for a perennial U.S. power against an unlikely sled hockey Russian foe. Though steeped in Olympic history, Russia’s Paralympic success lacked prior to this year. Perhaps it was that lack of success coupled with home ice that pushed Russia to a completely new level. Whatever the cause, the Russians played and played well.


“They’re a fast and physical team,” U.S. defenseman Taylor Chace said. “They come at you and you’ve got to be ready to respond. Our guys knew that they had to match the physicality.”

The U.S. matched the physicality and then some. The forward line of Declan Farmer, Josh Pauls and Brody Roybal continued to show their speed and agility. At 21-years-old, Pauls is the veteran of the trio, having competed in the Vancouver Games. Pauls is also the player who can win any race for the puck.


Pauls’ talents were hardly the only highlights from the game. Farmer was robbed just two minutes before Sweeney’s goal, when his backhand shot was gloved away by Russian goalie Vladimir Kamantcev. Kamantcev finished the day with three saves on four shots. His counterpart, U.S. goalie Steve Cash, who collected six saves for the win.


“Stevie was just on tonight,” Chace said. “We left him out a few times, but he’s good enough to bounce back for a save.”


Chace and Cash are among two of the three veterans from the 2006 Torino Games. Joining Cash and Chace is forward Taylor Lipsett. Lipsett said he plans to retire from international sled hockey. He also, though, did not completely rule out temporary retirement.


“Ever since 2006, I’ve grown as a player and person,” Lipsett said. “Right now, I’m interested in working more and possibly stating up a family.”


Regardless of where he ends up, Lipsett has the backing of his teammates. The two-time gold medalist is more than deserving of this proper send off.


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 CATIONS:
Photos by Ken King
"Wounded Warrior Project veteran, Joshua Sweeney, scores the only, and winning, goal during the USA vs. Russia gold medal Sled Hockey game during the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia."
 
"Wounded Warrior Project veteran, Joshua Sweeney, takes the puck from Russia in the gold medal game during the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi."
Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 22:03
 
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
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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
 
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