(Top left, clockwise) Mr. T and Brenna Huckaby, Thomas Walsh, Brody Roybal, Tyler Walk and Mike Schultz.
Long after the flame was extinguished at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the memories of incredible comebacks, dominant performances and inspiring stories live on.
The Games were record-breaking for Team USA, which finished atop the medal table for the first time since 1992 and led the medal count every day in its most successful Games since 2002. But beyond the impressive numbers were memorable moments like the sled hockey team’s exciting rally to win a gold medal and Oksana Masters overcoming injury to bring home five medals. In no particular order, here’s a look back at 18 of the most memorable moments from the Games:
Sled Hockey Team Completes Gold-Medal Threepeat
With less than a minute to play in the gold-medal sled hockey game, Canada held a 1-0 advantage over Team USA. But when a Canadian shot on goal hit the post on an empty net, the U.S. quickly pounced on the rebound and Declan Farmer scored with 37.8 seconds left to force sudden-death overtime. Then, 3:30 into the extra frame, Farmer sliced the puck between two defenders and into the net to give Team USA its record-extending third consecutive and fourth overall Paralympic title with a thrilling 2-1 victory.
Nordic Skiing Team Records Historic Medal Haul
The U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team had its best performance ever at a Paralympic Games by a landslide, taking home 16 medals. Its previous highest medal total was five in 2002. Nearly half of Team USA’s medals in PyeongChang came in cross-country and biathlon, including six golds.
Snowboarders Rule The Medal Table
Team USA dominated the snowboarding competition, winning 13 medals of the 30 up for grabs, which was nine more than it won at the Sochi 2014 Games. Of those medals, seven came in the Paralympic debut of the banked slalom discipline.
Military Veterans Win Nine Medals
There were 18 military veterans on the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Team who brought home nine medals, and it was Navy SEAL Dan Cnossen who stole the spotlight of that group. He was the most decorated U.S. man at the Games with six medals, including gold in the sitting biathlon 7.5-kilometer event. President Barack Obama tweeted his support to congratulate Cnossen, who is also a Purple Heart recipient.
Kendall Gretsch Sets Gold-Medal Pace In Biathlon
Kendall Gretsch became the first U.S. Olympic or Paralympic athlete to win biathlon gold at the Games when she won the sitting biathlon sprint on Day 1 of action in PyeongChang. In her Paralympic debut, she missed just one shot on her second visit to the range to seal her victory by more than 24 seconds, covering the 6-kilometer course in a time of 21:52.0.
Skier Tyler Walker Has Silver-Medal Redemption
Tyler Walker couldn’t contain his emotions during his TV interview with NBC following his silver-medal performance in the men’s giant slalom sitting competition, and his passion inspired the viewers back home. The medal was the first in the four-time Paralympian’s career, and it came four years after he crashed out in the event in Sochi.
Mike Schultz Makes Stunning Snowboard Debut
A decade after having his left leg amputated following a professional snocross race accident, Mike Schultz won Paralympic gold in snowboardcross, silver in banked slalom, and was selected by his Team USA peers to carry the American flag into the Opening Ceremony. The Minnesota native couldn’t have asked for a better Paralympic debut. The prosthetics company he manages also provided the entire U.S. Paralympic snowboarding team with their prosthetic knees and feet for the Games.
Nordic Skier Oksana Masters Makes It Five
Oksana Masters left PyeongChang as the most decorated U.S. woman at the Games with five medals in Nordic skiing. The most meaningful medal for Masters came midway through the Games. Overcoming a serious injury to her arm from just three weeks prior, and after suffering a fall that forced her out of competition the day prior, she prevailed in the cross-country sprint for her first career Paralympic gold medal. She would go on to claim another gold in the cross-country 5-kilometer race and carry the U.S. flag in the Closing Ceremony.
Declan Farmer Leads Sled Hockey Tournament In Scoring
Farmer, a 20-year-old economics student at Princeton, put on the performance of a lifetime at the Gangneung Hockey Center. He finished as the sled hockey tournament’s leading scorer with 11 goals and led all skaters with 17 points, including the gold-medal-winning goal. He tied the Paralympic record for most goals scored at a single Paralympic Games with Sylvester Flis, who reached the mark in 2002. Farmer’s 14 career Paralympic goals also became a new U.S. record.
Andrew Kurka Bounces Back For Gold After 2014 Crash
After a heartbreaking crash in a training run at the Sochi 2014 Games, Andrew Kurka opened up his PyeongChang 2018 campaign with a gold medal in the men’s sitting alpine skiing event. He held off a competitive field of more than 25 athletes for his first Paralympic medal, recording the largest margin of victory ever in a Paralympic downhill race. He went on to also win silver in super-G.
Paralympic Fans Enjoy Record Amount Of Coverage
NBC Sports presented an unprecedent amount of coverage of a Paralympic Winter Games, including 94 hours on television, nearly double that from Sochi 2014. In all, NBC showed more than 250 hours of coverage across its digital platforms, including coverage of all six sports.
Brenna Huckaby Lives Up To The Hype
In her Paralympic debut, Brenna Huckaby swept the women’s snowboard LL1 class, winning gold in both the banked slalom and snowboardcross events. The 21-year-old would leave the Games as a very recognizable face on the slopes, complete with her signature purple hair.
Thomas Walsh Gets Heartfelt Congratulations From Friend Shiffrin
Alpine skier Thomas Walsh received an emotional message from his childhood friend and prom date Mikaela Shiffrin after taking his first run down the slopes in PyeongChang. Having never thought he would ski again after a cancer battle, Walsh fought back tears as he heard Shiffrin’s voice. “I wish I could hug you right now and tell you that we’re so proud of you,” the two-time Olympic champion said.
Biathlete Andy Soule Finally Makes The Podium
In his third Paralympic appearance, U.S. Army veteran Andy Soule finally made the podium. Soule, who was deployed to Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks, won bronze in the men’s sitting class of middle-distance biathlon in PyeongChang. He would quickly return to the podium to win his first Paralympic gold, taking the title over compatriot Cnossen in the cross-country sprint.
Brody Roybal Completes Record-Setting Hockey Season
Hard-hitting forward Brody Roybal opened up Paralympic play in championship style, recording back-to-back hat tricks in the U.S. sled hockey team’s first two preliminary-round games. The 19-year-old scored three times in Team USA’s 10-0 win over Japan and then netted another three scores in the squad’s 10-0 victory over the Czech Republic. With those six goals, he broke the U.S. records for most points and goals in a single season.
Laurie Stephens Adds A Seventh Paralympic Medal
Alpine skier Laurie Stephens defended her bronze medal from Sochi in the women’s sitting downhill event to cement her status as the most decorated U.S. alpine skier. She would go on to finish her PyeongChang campaign with four top-five finishes.
Noah Elliott Completes Comeback From Cancer
Four years after watching the Sochi 2014 Games from his hospital bed while undergoing treatment for osteosarcoma, Noah Elliot had a breakout Paralympic debut. The 20-year-old won bronze in the men’s snowboardcross in the LL1 classification, with many of his teammates alongside him being the same athletes he watched on television four years earlier. He then went on to shock the field and win gold in the banked slalom competition just a few days later.
Famous Fan Mr. T Promotes The Games
American actor and retired professional wrestler Mr. T showed constant support for Team USA during the Paralympic Games, particularly for the wheelchair curlers. Throughout the Games, he fired off tweets encouraging his followers to watch the sporting action with the hashtag, “#IPityTheFoolwhodontwatchtheParalympics,” a play on his famous catchphrase.
Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.