The moments over the winter season were often golden for U.S. Paralympics’ Nordic skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding national teams.
Two-time Paralympians Oksana Masters and Andy Soule both won world cup cross-country overall championships, highlighting a season of Nordic achievements in 2014-15.
But the Nordic skiers weren‘t alone in stepping to the podium.
Mike Shea won a gold medal in the world championship debut of banked slalom in snowboarding, and new national team member Brenna Huckaby won a world gold medal, as well.
Danelle Umstead and her guide, husband Rob Umstead, combined to win three medals at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships.
|Dan Cnossen competes at the 2015 IPC World Cup in Asahikawa, Japan.|
Oksana Masters, a 2012 Paralympic bronze medalist in rowing before she turned to skiing, was simply dominating this season for Team USA.
Masters won the IPC world cup overall championship in the women’s sitting class and clinched it with a gold medal run at the World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway, in March. Masters won nine world cup medals in 2014-15, including seven gold medals. Also among her medals stash were two silver medals and a bronze medal at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships held on home snow in Cable, Wisconsin.
“It is a great feeling and a great finish to the season,” Masters said after capturing the gold medal at the World Cup Finals. “This took a lot of hard work by myself, my teammates, my coaches and wax techs. This is just a great end to the season.”
Also winning a cross-country overall championship was Andy Soule, who won a U.S.-best five medals at the world championships in the men’s sitting category. He had five world cup cross-country medals.
Season highlights also included a silver medal finish by Paralympian and Navy SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen in the men’s biathlon pursuit at the World Cup Finals.
“Our athletes approached their goals this year with open minds and determination, and for that they saw progress throughout the entire season,” said Eileen Cary, U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing head coach. “They all had setbacks throughout the winter but worked through the challenges and emerged as better athletes for it.
“Their success on the international stage was well deserved and an exciting reflection of their hard work. I could not be more proud of this team and am excited to continue the process again and build upon the progress of the last year.”
|Mike Shea won the first head-to-head snowboard cross world championship title in Aspen, Colo.|
One year after snowboarding made its Paralympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games with individual snowboard cross, the sport grew to include head-to-head snowboard cross and banked slalom for the 2014-15 season.
Mike Shea and Evan Strong finished one-two in the men’s LL-2 banked slalom at the IPC Para-Snowboard World Championships in February in La Molina, Spain. Brenna Huckaby and Nicole Roundy finished two-three in the women’s LL-1 banked slalom, finishing behind Paralympic silver medalist Cecile Hernandez-Cervellon of France. Heidi Jo Duce won a bronze medal in the women’s LL-2 race.
“I’m very pleased to have finished this trip off winning first place in the banked slalom event,” said Shea, who dedicated his win to the late para-snowboarder Matthew Robinson of Australia.
In head-to-head snowboard cross. Huckaby won a bronze medal in the world cup debut of snowboard cross in Aspen, Colorado. She won a gold medal in snowboard cross on the first day of the world championships.
The United States won a world championship-best nine medals, including two gold medals. Duce won a silver medal in the women’s LL-2 snowboard cross. Strong won a silver medal in the men’s LL-2 snowboard cross.
“The U.S. team dominated the world cup circuit this season, scoring more than double the world cup points than our competitors and bringing home their second consecutive Nations Cup,” said Kevin Jardine, U.S. Paralympics High Performance Director of Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding.
|Danelle Umstead competes at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.|
Danelle Umstead and husband/guide Rob Umstead led Team USA with three medals — two silver medals and a bronze — at the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Panorama, British Columbia.
Competing in the women’s visually impaired class, Umstead finished runner-up in the downhill race, capturing her first world championship medal. A three-time Paralympic medalist, she also won a silver medal in the super-G and then a bronze medal in the super combined.
Six-time Paralympic medalist Laurie Stephens also won a medal at the world championships, finishing third in the women’s super-G sitting race. Mark Bathum and guide Cade Yamamoto won a silver medal in the men’s visually impaired downhill race. Andrew Kurka returned from a skiing accident earlier this season in which he broke his femur, and won a bronze medal in the men’s super-G sitting race.
Stephanie Jallen also won a world bronze medal, finishing third in the women’s giant slalom.
“The alpine team had a great season considering the challenges we faced with the unusual weather and following several key departures from our team,” Jardine said. “Although we missed Alana Nichols, Heath Calhoun, Allison Jones and Stephani Victor this season, Danelle Umstead, Laurie Stephens, Tyler Walker, Stephanie Jallen and Mark Bathum had incredible performances this season.
“Additionally, the future talent in the USA is very strong right now and we look forward to having new athletes on the national team soon.”