U.S. sled hockey team nominated for Best Team of Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
Josh Sweeney, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, scored Team USA's lone goal in the gold medal game of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Team USA celebrates after beating Russia for the gold medal at the Paralympic Winter Games, becoming the first team to ever win back-to-back sled hockey titles.
The 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team is among the finalists for the International Paralympic Committee’s Best Team of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. The public can now vote for the winner on Paralympic.org until 6 a.m. ET on April 29. No registration is required for voting.
In lieu of the IPC Athlete of the Month award for March, the honor is being separated into three different categories - Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete and Best Team - based on results at Sochi 2014.
A one-week voting period is being dedicated to each category on the IPC's website, with American sled hockey player Declan Farmer having already been voted the Best Male Athlete and French alpine skier Marie Bochet as the Best Female Athlete. Snowboarder Evan Strong, the first gold medalist in snowboard cross, was also nominated.
The U.S. team became the first to capture back-to-back Paralympic sled hockey gold medals at the Sochi Games. Team USA won two of its three preliminary games before defeating Canada, 3-0, in the semifinal and Russia, 1-0, in the gold-medal game.
The other nominees for Best Team are:
Canada's wheelchair curling team: The Canadians won their third consecutive Paralympic gold in wheelchair curling, defeating Russia in the final. Sonja Gaudet has played on all three of Canada's title teams, while Jim Armstrong and Ina Forrest have played on two. It was the first gold for Dennis Thiessen and alternate Mark Ideson.
Russia's sled hockey team: After starting up their national sled hockey program just five years ago, Russia captured the world's attention by winning silver on their home ice in Sochi. In preliminary round play, they also upset the USA and finished in first place in Group B.
Russia's Nordic skiing mixed relay team: In the mixed relay, just when it seemed Russia might not even finish on the podium, Nikolay Polukhin stormed home in the final leg of the race to complete the course in 27:35.6 and snag the gold for the host nation with teammates Alena Kaufman, Elena Remizova and Svetlana Konovalova. The Russians were in eighth place after the second leg but gradually moved forward in the race and surpassed Sweden and Norway in the final leg to top the podium.
Sweden's Nordic skiing mixed relay team: In an event that typically includes four athletes per team, Sweden opted to go with just two - 19-year-old Zebastian Modin and 42-year-old Helen Ripa. The pair won a silver medal, with each having to ski two legs of the race.
The public now has until 6 a.m. ET on April 29 to vote for which team it thought had the best performance last month at Sochi 2014. The nominations are compiled from submissions by National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and International Federations (IFs).