The Road to Sochi is paved in medals.
The U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing Team traveled to New Zealand (Aug. 22-27) and Australia (Sept. 2-5) for the opening races of the 2013-14 International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Cups, turning Down Under upside down as 12 team members won 41 medals.
The team traveled to New Zealand for two slaloms at the New Zealand Winter Games in Coronet Peak, followed by a super combined and a super G at Mount Hutt.
En route to winning the overall trophy, U.S. skiers rounded up 18 medals as Staci Mannella and guide Kim Seevers and Danelle Umstead and guide Rob Umstesd each scored victories in the women’s visually impaired category. Melanie Schwartz took a gold in the women’s standing while Stephani Victor and Tyler Walker both visited the top step in the sitting category. Laurie Stephens (women’s sitting), Jamie Stanton (men’s standing), Health Calhoun (men’s sitting), and Jasmin Bambur (men’s sitting) also raced their way to the podium.
The team picked up the pace in Australia by capturing 23 medals in three races at Thredbo Resort.
Team USA was once again led by Victor, who scored three more wins, while Walker added two more golds and a silver to his haul, and Chris Devlin-Young, ret., U.S. Coast Guard, and Stephanie Jallen both found their way to the winner’s circle once. They were joined in the medal parade by former U.S. Marine Jon Lujan (1 bronze, men’s standing), Stanton (1 silver, 1 bronze), Stephens (3 silvers), Calhoun (1 silver, 1 bronze), and Schwartz (1 bronze). Devlin-Young also added a bronze to his bag, while Jallen collected a silver and a bronze. The Umsteads contributed to the U.S. scoring efforts with three bronze medals.
Overall, Victor led the team with seven gold medals, but the U.S. men’s sitting skiers made a statement by sweeping the podium twice. Walker collected three wins and a second, Jallen won a gold, silver, and bronze, and the Umstesds picked up a gold, a silver, and four bronze medals. World Cup rookies Mannella and Stanton contributed four medals to the cause.
The team returns home to continue preparation for the remaining events on the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup circuit and the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.