Amy Purdy attends Gold Meets Golden on Jan. 6, 2018 in Los Angeles.
Team USA athletes are used to being asked a lot of questions — even funny questions. And for many Paralympic athletes, that often means fielding questions about their physical impairments.
So we wanted to know the craziest questions they’ve ever been asked. Seven winter Paralympians, who are currently competing in PyeongChang, shared the funniest ones – from, “Can we stand on your feet?” to, “Where do you sleep?”
Oksana Masters, Para Nordic Skiing
One of the cutest, funniest questions I got asked was by a kid who was like, ‘Are you a robot? Can you run faster than a cheetah?’ There were a couple times in the grocery store I’m ashamed to admit I did have a couple kids convinced that my mom is human, and my dad is a robot. And I am a combination of both, and can outrun a cheetah. I hope they don’t read this and see that it’s false what I told them.
Amy Purdy, Para Snowboarding
Kids are amazing. They have all types of questions. And they’re smart. Right away they’ll be like, ‘Can you make yourself as tall as you want?’ I love that, because absolutely, I can. And it’s funny because adults will say, ‘Oh, I‘ve never thought of that.’ And it’s one of the first questions that kids will have.
Kids always have the funniest answers, too. I’ll ask them if they could make their legs out of anything — and capable of anything — what would they have their legs do? Kids say, ‘I would have spaghetti legs,’ or, ‘I would have legs where I can run so fast I can jump over houses.’ I think it’s so imaginative and amazing. And if you ask adults the same thing they’re not that creative.
Another thing that’s funny is that for some reason kids like to stand on my feet. If I’m hanging out with a friend’s kid or my niece or nephew — when they were little — they like to stand on my feet. They’ll be like, ‘Can you feel that? Can you feel that?’ I just think it’s so funny. They all want to do that.
Aaron Pike, Para Nordic Skiing
Kids always have funny questions. When they see you in a chair they don’t think you can get out of your chair. So I’ve been asked, ‘How do you sleep in your wheelchair?’ I ask them, ‘How do you think I sleep?’ They thought I just went up next to a wall and just slept. So that was one of the sillier questions.
Kirk Black, Wheelchair Curling
A lot of adults ask questions about how you do things. Because even when we’re in wheelchairs, we look able-bodied and like we’re able to get up and do stuff. I always get questions of who takes care of me. And when I travel, ‘Who goes with you when you travel?’ People are just amazed that you can do the things you do. You have to explain to them that we can do anything that able-bodied people do — we just do things differently. Just because we’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean we’re disabled.
Declan Farmer, Sled Hockey
I get a lot of robot questions or Transformer questions from kids. I think it’s pretty funny. And their parents are always like, ‘Oh no, you don’t ask that!’ But it’s okay. They’re just curious. I think it’s good when kids ask because I get to tell them I was born without legs and I use prosthetics to walk. That way they don’t get any misconceptions.
Danelle Umstead, Para Alpine Skiing
We (Danelle’s husband Rob is her guide) were giving a presentation at our niece’s school [about me being visually impaired], and a little kid said, ‘Excuse me.’ I was wearing a ball cap because the lights were really bright, and I said, ‘Yes.’ She replied, ‘If you take the ball cap off you could probably see.’ I was like, ‘Um, yeah, maybe. It’s a miracle. I can see!’
People also ask quite often if the dog skis with me. I tell them we couldn’t get her a passport.
Brenna Huckaby, Para Snowboarding
I usually get kids saying, ‘What the heck is that?’ I think it’s pretty funny because they don’t see it very often so I’m like, ‘It’s a robot leg. How cool is that?’