The Paralympic Winter Games are March 7-16, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. With 72 medal events, Team USA will send 80 athletes, including six guides for the visually impaired, to compete at the Games. Get ready for Sochi with these 14 facts on the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team:
From coast to coast
Members of the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team hail from 33 states, with Colorado home to the most athletes with the tally at 14. Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Florida all have representatives on the team, making it a truly nationwide experience.
Growing and growing
While 50 athletes represented Team USA at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, the roster has grown by 30 athletes in 2014. Notable increases came from the addition of 10 athletes competing in the debut of snowboard cross at the Paralympic Winter Games and from the Nordic skiing (biathlon and cross-country skiing) team tripling in size over the past four years.
Follow the leader
Alpine skier Jon Lujan (Littleton, Colo.), a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, has been selected as the flag bearer for the U.S. Paralympic Team at the Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games on March 7. Lujan served as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps for more than eight and a half years, initially from 1993-97 and again after the September 11, 2001, attacks from 2001-06. During a mission in Iraq in 2003, Lujan ruptured two discs in his back. The surgery to repair the discs in 2005 damaged Lujan’s spinal cord, leaving him with permanent nerve damage and paralysis in his lower legs.
Tatyana McFadden is the most decorated athlete on the team with 10 Paralympic medals; however, none of them are from the Paralympic Winter Games. McFadden is making her winter sport debut in cross-country skiing after first gaining international fame in track and field.
Fourteen years of Paralympic Games
Allison Jones has been on every U.S. Paralympic Team roster, summer or winter, since 2002 as a seven-time Paralympian and seven-time medalist in alpine skiing and cycling.
Six athletes from the London 2012 Paralympic Games have been named to the roster: Monica Bascio (cycling/cross-country skiing) Jones (cycling/alpine skiing), Oksana Masters (rowing/biathlon and cross-country skiing), McFadden (track and field/cross-country skiing), Alana Nichols (wheelchair basketball/alpine skiing), Aaron Pike (track and field/Nordic skiing).
Paralympics and parenthood
Eighteen athletes balance training and competition schedules with raising a family; three athletes are mothers and 15 are fathers.
A team for the ages
Sled hockey’s Brody Robyal (Northlake, Ill.) is the youngest athletes on the team at 15 years old. Alpine skier Mark Bathum (Mercer Island, Wash.) is the most senior member of the team at 55 years old.
Eighteen athletes who have represented the U.S. as military veterans and active duty service members will represent Team USA in Sochi. The Nordic skiing team, which combines biathlon and cross-country athletes, boasts the highest percentage of veterans, with eight of the 16 athletes having military experience.
The 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team features 32 returning Paralympians who have won a combined haul of 50 Paralympic medals in the summer and winter games. All six of the individual athletes who won medals at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games return to action for Team USA in Sochi, while eight sled hockey players also return.
We are the world
Nine members of the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team were born outside the United States: snowboarder Cristina Albert, Nordic skier Omar Bermejo, alpine skier Jasmin Bambur, sled hockey player Jen Lee, Nordic skier Oksana Masters, Nordic skier Tatyana McFadden, Nordic skier Augusto Perez, alpine skier Melanie Schwartz and Nordic skier Andy Soule.
History in the making
Heading into the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, Team USA has multiple opportunities to make history, including in snowboarding, which debuts at the Games. Team USA has five men and five women competing for the first ever snowboarding medals.
The U.S. Paralympic Team has never medaled in women's biathlon or wheelchair curling at the Paralympic Winter Games.
As seen on TV
NBC and NBCSN will combine to air over 50 hours of television coverage for the Games starting on March 7 with the Opening Ceremony live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN. It will be followed by daily coverage of all five Paralympic sports in the Sochi program, before the Games’ Closing Ceremony is broadcast on March 16. In addition to the unprecedented U.S. television coverage, the USOC will provide live online coverage of every event at TeamUSA.org. The 2014 Paralympic Winter Games coverage is made possible through the support of the broadcast and streaming sponsors BMW, BP, Citi, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Procter & Gamble and The Hartford.