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If You Enjoyed These Olympic Moments, Don’t Miss The Paralympic Games

By Todd Kortemeier | March 01, 2022, 11 a.m. (ET)

Brenna Huckaby competes during the women's banked slalom SB-LL1 at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

 

The Olympic Flame has been extinguished, and the Olympic Winter Games won’t be back for another four years. 

But for those not quite ready to say goodbye to winter sports, you’re in luck: less than a fortnight remains until the start of the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

If you enjoyed the Olympics but are new to the Paralympics, here are some tips for finding your niche once the Games begin next week.

If you enjoyed...

...Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner carving their way to snowboardcross gold, then don’t miss Brenna Huckaby and Mike Schultz defending their snowboarding gold medals.


For Jacobellis, the Beijing Games were a breakthrough. Competing in her fifth Olympic Games, she won a long-awaited first gold medal in women’s snowboardcross, and then won the brand-new mixed team event with Baumgartner, who claimed his first Olympic medal at the age of 40. The challenge for Huckaby and Schultz will be different; they have the difficult task of maintaining their places atop the podium. The late Bibian Mentel-Spee of the Netherlands is the only Para snowboarder to repeat as a gold medalist at the Games.

...the U.S. women’s hockey team battling Canada, then don’t miss the rivalry between the U.S. and Canada in sled hockey.

Much like the Olympic women’s hockey gold medal has gone to only Canada or the United States since the first event in 1998, Paralympic gold in sled hockey has belonged to one of those two countries since 2002. The rivals have also combined for nine world championships and met in the past five world championships finals. Expect that rivalry to renew in Beijing from the get-go as the teams meet in their opening game on March 5.

...the strategy of the U.S. men’s, women’s and mixed doubles curling teams, then don’t miss wheelchair curling.

“Chess on ice” is a common descriptor for curling, and you’ll find all the same strategic decision-making in wheelchair curling. The major difference is no sweeping; there is little margin for error as wheelchair curlers deliver their rocks using an extension device to apply just the right rotation to hit the target. U.S. skip Matt Thums will lead Team USA in pursuit of its first medal.

...Deedra Irwin’s historic seventh-place finish in biathlon, then don’t miss Team USA’s first biathlon medalists Kendall Gretsch and Dan Cnossen in action.

In Beijing Irwin secured the best finish ever by a U.S. Olympic biathlete by finishing seventh in the women’s individual race. Two Team USA Paralympians have already found the biathlon podium at the Games, as Gretsch and Cnossen each had huge breakthroughs four years ago, winning gold medals in their respective sitting classifications. Now they’re back and looking to repeat.

Oksana Masters celebrates winning gold in the women's 15-kilometer cross-country sitting race at the 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships on Jan. 18, 2022 in Lillehammer, Norway.

 

...Jessie Diggins on cross-country skis, then don’t miss Oksana Masters on cross-country skis.

Now with an Olympic medal of every color to her name, Diggins has become Team USA’s most decorated cross-country skier at the Games. Masters also has a chance to medal every time she hits the snow, and she often does. The multi-sport superstar won five medals at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, including two golds in cross-country skiing. She now has seven career medals at the Winter Games, and that’s not to mention the three medals she has in cycling and rowing in the Summer Games.

...Ryan Cochran-Siegle winning silver in the super-G, then don’t miss Andrew Kurka’s all-out approach in downhill.

Cochran-Siegle gave it everything he had in pushing hard to win his first career medal, the only alpine skiing medal for the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. Kurka already has a gold and a silver medal to his name from the Paralympics, which he won four years ago, but the Alaska native won’t let up a bit in trying to earn more hardware in 2022. Kurka has an “all or nothing” approach to his skiing, and when the “all” works out he becomes hard to beat, especially in the speed events.

...service members competing for Team USA in the Olympics, then don’t miss all the service members suiting up for Team USA in the Paralympics.

Nine U.S. athletes at the Olympic Winter Games had a military background, including bobsled pilot Frank Del Duca. That trend continues for Team USA at the Paralympic Winter Games, as several more Team USA Paralympic athletes have served in the military, including sled hockey player Rico Roman, wheelchair curler Steve Emt and Nordic skier Dan Cnossen.

...athletes like Erin Jackson from warm-weather places dominate winter sports at the Olympics, then don’t miss warm-weather natives like Declan Farmer do the same at the Paralympics.

You don’t need to have grown up in sight of a single snowflake to have success at the Winter Games. Ocala, Florida, native and speedskater Erin Jackson was the latest athlete to prove that as she took home the gold medal in the women’s 500-meter in Beijing. Sled hockey player Declan Farmer also hails from the Sunshine State, and the Tampa native has been one of the team’s best players over the past two Paralympics, tying a record for goals with 11 in PyeongChang. With many U.S. Paralympians turning to their sport later in life, the U.S. roster is hardly limited to athletes from northern states. 


...all the mixed team events on the Olympic program, then don’t miss the mixed relay in Paralympic cross-country skiing.

The 2022 Olympic Winter Games saw the addition of more mixed-gender events, and there’s one of those on the Paralympic program as well. Teams of two men and two women compete in the 4x2.5-kilometer mixed relay in cross-country skiing. The event was introduced in 2014, and Team USA is still seeking its first medal. And unlike in the Olympics, curling is a mixed-gender event in the Paralympics with teams of men and women competing together. Sled hockey is also officially a mixed-gender event, though women competing has been rare.

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor, and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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