Athletes to Watch: On the Road to Sochi 2014, Week 35

Paralympic Winter Games
Paralympic Winter Games (c) TeamUSA.org

The Sochi Opening Ceremony is only days away. As the Games draw closer there is a great deal of coverage focusing on its rising stars and decorated veterans. Unfortunately not much mention is made of the outstanding athletes who will make up our Paralympic team. So we will give you a snapshot here to prepare you for more amazing performances that will take place next month.

Just two weeks after the Closing Ceremony, the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place March 7-16. The Games will feature seven disciplines of five sports, as recognized by the International Paralympic Committee, for a total of 72 medal events, including men’s and women’s standing snowboard cross, which will make its debut in Sochi as a part of the alpine skiing program.

The United States will compete in each of the five sports (alpine skiingbiathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling) contested in Sochi with an estimated team of 77 athletes. The International Paralympic Committee allocated the U.S. 28 slots for alpine skiing, excluding snowboarding, which has five male slots and five female slots, and 17 slots for biathlon and cross-country skiing. Sled hockey teams are 17 athletes (18 if mixed gender) and wheelchair curling teams are five athletes.

While the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team and the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team were nominated in December 2013, the rosters for other sports will not be revealed until closer to the Games. The roster for snowboarding will be named by Feb. 5 and the roster for alpine skiing will be named by Feb. 17. The entire 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team, as approved by the United States Olympic Committee, will be named no later than Feb. 21.

The U.S. sent 50 athletes to the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, winning four gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals, finishing fifth overall in the medal count. In 2010, Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), a U.S. Army veteran, won a bronze medal in the men’s sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit biathlon event, becoming the first U.S. biathlete to medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games.

We will follow the selection process and will present the team to you as soon as the process is completed.

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