In the first three days of the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Tatyana McFadden, a seasoned wheelchair racer with 11 Paralympic medals (including silver in sit-skiing in Sochi), racked up silver and gold in her first two track-and-field races.
After competing at the 2012 London Paralympics in rowing and 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic in skiing, Oksana Masters is tripling up after qualifying for the 2016 Rio Summer Paralympics in handcycling. “It’s going to be a good challenge and I’m really looking forward to being able to represent the U.S. Paralympic team and to be able to represent it in more than one sport," she said.
Oksana Masters of the U.S. Paralympics Nordic team never lost a cross-country World Cup race all season en route to a convincing overall World Cup win for the second-straight year. “Oksana brought impressive consistency to her racing this season,” coach Eileen Carey told FS.
Last week, the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Sit Ski Nationals and IPC Continental Cup were held in Craftsbury, Vt., where Oksana Masters swept the women's races, newcomer Joy Rondeau placed second in four of them, and Andy Soule won all but one of the men's races. “I was impressed with the group as a whole and am excited to see what is to come,” head coach Eileen Carey explained.
Two Americans made history this past season, topping the overall IPC World Cup sit-ski podiums and bringing home a hefty load of medals over the course of the winter, making them our picks for Para-Nordic Skiers of the Year.
Three North Americans -- a 21-year-old Canadian, a 25-year-old former rower and a 35-year-old Army veteran -- topped the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Overall World Cup podiums for 2014/2015, ending their seasons on Sunday at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway.
Heading into next week's IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway, two Americans lead the overall World Cup standings: Oksana Masters and Andy Soule. “It’s a great feeling knowing what I have been working on is working,” Masters explained. “I feel like anything can happen...”
With five medals already in his possession before the last day of IPC World Championships in Cable, Wis., American Andy Soule didn't have to ski the standing, skate course in the mixed relay -- but he wanted to. Not only did it show him what he was capable of, but it allowed "a lot of people to see exactly what is possible for a sit skier, too,” Soule, IPC Athlete of the Month, said last week.
For the third time ever, the IPC World Championships are being held in the U.S. and kick off Friday with the opening ceremony in Cable, Wis. Team USA is ready, according to coach Eileen Carey. “We are thrilled to get another chance to test out some of our training and racing strategies," she says. "Having the opportunity to do that on home snow is a great bonus for us.”
This week's workout comes from U.S. Paralympics coach Eileen Carey, who shares a fun head-to-head speed session that works on both technique and tactics. "This type of workout is important for our program because we often have training sessions with athletes with a wide range of experience levels and/or with different impairments competing against one another," she says.
The U.S. is hosting world championships this year -- specifically, Cable, Wis., where the American Birkebeiner starts annually, is gearing up to be the site of the 2015 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships from Jan. 22-Feb. 1.
While the three medals U.S. Paralympics Nordic won in Sochi are still fresh, the team's moving on and doing everything it can with the money it has to be a leading force in Paralympic cross-country skiing and biathlon. "Medals are good, but they’re not critical," director John Farra explains. "I think they’re going to be more critical in Pyeongchang.”
Last week, the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Team toyed with a new kind of training at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center: technique on a rollerski treadmill using live-video feedback. Oksana Masters was nervous before, but ramped it up to 10 mph at a 10-percent incline before the workout was over.
James Upham had a good run in Sochi: his Paralympic skiers won three medals - the first by U.S. women in 20 years - and before that at the Olympics Susan Dunklee, a college skier he had recruited to be a biathlete, turned in the best performance ever by a U.S. woman. Now he's returning to his home of Maine as an assistant coach at Bates College.
Twenty-two years ago, Colette Bourgonje was a grade-school teacher with a ticket to the Albertville Paralympics. But the school wasn’t about to let her take off for her first Paralympics. She went anyway and began an unprecedented streak of competing at seven Winter Paralympics -- 10 Paralympics in all.
The U.S. Paralympic Nordic skiing team closed out the 2014 Paralympics on a high on Sunday as Oksana Masters won bronze in the women’s 5 k sit ski cross-country race at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center. “I am in complete shock and amazement,” says Masters, the most successful U.S. Paralympic cross-country female.
Chris Klebl earned his first Paralympic medal in impressive fashion, winning gold in Sunday's cross-country 10 k sit-ski race on the last day of the Sochi Games. Brian McKeever took his third gold of the week, 10th total, the most of any winter athlete in Paralympic history.
Tatyana McFadden rose to the occasion yet again to notch the second U.S. silver medal in cross-country skiing at the Sochi Paralympics, becoming the second woman to do so in the last 20 years. Just 0.1 seconds back from gold, the Russian-born McFadden medaled in front of both her adoptive and birth mothers.
Brian McKeever and Graham Nishikawa came back from all odds after McKeever went down in Wednesday's sprint, then surged ahead for gold -- his first with Nishikawa alone, second of the Sochi Paralympics, and ninth total. "That was stressful,” McKeever told Cross Country Canada. “Once the cuss words were out, the only thing you can do is get back up and race."
Canada’s Mark Arendz battled through brutal race conditions on Tuesday to capture bronze in the men’s 12.5-kilometre standing at the Sochi Paralympics, just days after taking silver in his first competition of the Games. In doing so, Arendz, 24, became the first Canadian to win two Paralympic biathlon medals.