As the action unfolds in Sochi, Russia, for the Paralympic Winter Games, March 7-16, sled hockey player Rico Roman, a U.S. Army veteran, and biathlete and cross-country skier Andy Soule, also a U.S. Army veteran, will give you a front row seat, blogging for USParalympics.org. Blogs are presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Rico Roman helped Team USA win the gold medal at the 2012 International Paralympic Committee World Sledge Hockey Championship, appearing in all five games the U.S. played. With the title, the United States became the first country ever to win consecutive world titles. The team won a silver medal in 2013. Roman has never competed at the Paralympic Winter Games before. A Portland, Ore., native who calls Wincrest, Texas, home, Roman had his left leg amputated above the knee when injured by an improvised explosive device while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq in February 2007. Roman was introduced to sled hockey by “Operation Comfort”, an organization dedicated to assisting injured U.S. service personnel at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He and his wife Nathalie have two children, Juliet and Raul.
Andy Soule was attending Texas A&M University as a member of the Corps of Cadets when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. Following 9/11, Soule left school to enlist in the U.S. Army. Soon after basic training, he was deployed to Afghanistan where an improvised explosive device detonated next to Soule's Humvee, resulting in double leg amputation. Looking for a way to stay active, Soule attended a cross-country skiing recruitment camp in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2005. He was instantly hooked on Nordic skiing. On the opening day of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games competition, Soule won the bronze medal in the men’s sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit, becoming the first U.S. athlete to medal in biathlon at the Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games. He is still the only U.S. athlete ever to win a medal, heading into the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Soule took two years off following Vancouver to study ballistics. Now he is back, eyeing Team USA’s first-ever gold medal in biathlon. Soule won the silver medal in the middle biathlon event at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wis.