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10 Team USA Athletes To Watch At The Winter Paralympics In 100 Days

By Stuart Lieberman | Nov. 24, 2021, 10:15 a.m. (ET)

Team USA led the medal count at the last Paralympic Winter Games with 36 total pieces of hardware, including 13 gold medals. A number of those medalists are looking to return to the snow and ice on the same stage next spring, while a new crop of new athletes aims to make their debut across the six Paralympic winter sports.

With 100 days to go until the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, here are 10 Team USA athletes — both veterans and rookies — to keep your eyes in the coming months.

Ravi Drugan - Alpine Skiing

Ravi Drugan poses while at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center on March 9, 2020 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

Now in his third year on the nine-member national team, Drugan is an X Games bronze medalist who took up the sport in 2008, four years after he was hit by a train and lost his legs. The Oregon native, who participates in the sitting category, is currently ranked in the top 10 in the world in the men’s slalom.

Andrew Kurka - Alpine Skiing

Andrew Kurka poses on the podium after the Super-G competition at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

 

The newly engaged Alaska native will be 30 years old by the time the Beijing Games come around, and he is expected to be a podium favorite in his third Paralympics. In his 12 seasons on the national team, the Alaska native has two Paralympic medals and four world championships medals to his name, including a Paralympic gold in the downhill from 2018 after having to sit out in 2014 due to a back injury.

Lera Doederlein - Nordic Skiing

Lera Doederlein poses for a photo on March 3, 2021.

 

It has only been three years since Doederlein was introduced to her sport, and she has already been named to the national development team. The Southern Californian was encouraged to take up the sport by 10-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters after starting off as a sled hockey player following the amputation of her legs at age 14.

Dan Cnossen - Nordic Skiing

Dan Cnossen competes in the cross-country 7.5 kilometer sitting event at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

 

The former Navy SEAL from Kansas is already a two-time Paralympian and six-time Paralympic medalist, having won all six of those medals at PyeongChang 2018. In South Korea, he and teammate Kendall Grestch also became the first Americans to win biathlon gold at any Olympic or Paralympic Games. Cnossen, who has been recognized for his military service by the likes of former First Lady Michelle Obama, is expected to be spotlighted both on and off the snow in Beijing for his perseverance.

Malik Jones - Sled Hockey

Malik Jones competes against Canada during the 2021 Border Series on Oct. 29, 2021 in St. Louis.

 

The 19-year-old forward from Colorado is one of the newest members of the U.S. sled hockey team, which will have gold-medal expectations in Beijing as the three-time defending Paralympic champions. The double-amputee already has experience playing in the spotlight as a teenager as a member of the Colorado Avalanche sled hockey team that played at Coors Field in 2016 following the NHL Stadium Series at the venue.

Brody Roybal - Sled Hockey

Brody Roybal poses at a Team USA content shoot in West Hollywood, Calif.

 

The two-time Paralympic gold medalist may as well change his last name to Rumble, as the former high school wrestler has become known around the world as one of the most hard-hitting, aggressive forwards in the sport. Still just 23, the Chicago native has been playing at the Paralympics since he was 15 and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2018 Paralympics and, more recently, the 2021 world championships, where he led Team USA to a record fifth world title with seven goals and four assists.

Zach Miller - Snowboarding

Zach Miller poses at a Team USA content shoot in West Hollywood, Calif.

 

Now coached by Amy Purdy’s husband, Daniel Gale, Miller was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was a baby and took up snowboarding at the age of 6. In 2018, the Colorado native reached new heights when he won eight world cup medals at the age of 21. His goal for Beijing in the LL2 category is simple: make the podium.

Keith Gabel - Snowboarding

Keith Gabel celebrates after competing in the snowboard banked slalom event at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

 

The Utah native has won a medal in both of the Paralympics he has competed in, including the sport’s Games debut in 2014. While he has not competed often over the past two years due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, he’ll be a favorite for gold in Beijing, as he looks to add to the silver and bronze already in his collection.

Oyuna Uranchimeg - Wheelchair Curling

Oyuna Uranchimeg poses at a Team USA content shoot in West Hollywood, Calif.

 

Born in Mongolia and now living in Minnesota, Uranchimeg’s life changed after a car accident and immigrating to the U.S. She began curling in 2016 and earlier this year became a mainstay in the lineup, helping Team USA take gold at the World Wheelchair B Championships in Finland.

Steve Emt - Wheelchair Curling

Steve Emt competes at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

 

While he did not discover wheelchair curling until after age 40, Emt made quick progress in making the national team and Team USA for the PyeongChang 2018 Games. With multiple world championships appearances under his belt, and as the vice skip for the team, he is trying to right the ship after a last-place finish in PyeongChang. The Connecticut native has been making progress, joining Uranchimeg in helping the U.S. finish fourth at the recent world championships.

Stuart Lieberman

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.

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