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Thomas Walsh Wins Team USA’s First Para Alpine Medal At 2022 Winter Games

By Stuart Lieberman | March 10, 2022, 2:22 a.m. (ET)

Thomas Walsh celebrates winning silver in the men's giant slalom finals at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 10, 2022 in Beijing.


BEIJING – Thomas Walsh was shocked when he saw the start list on Wednesday evening for the men’s giant slalom standing event for the next day at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

He would be the first to go in a field of 44 skiers. And he’d be wearing bib No. 13.

The 27-year-old cancer survivor decided to look at the list again on Thursday morning at the National Alpine Centre with a glass-half-full outlook.  

He’d be the first to set the pace, wearing lucky No. 13.

Boy, did that make all the difference.

Walsh skied to silver, earning his first career Paralympic medal and finishing with a total time of 1:55.44 across his two runs. His time was also just four hundredths of a second behind gold-medal winner Santeri Kiiveri’s of Finland. 

“I’m not sure it has fully set in yet,” Walsh said. “I’ve wanted this medal for as long as I can remember. There was a point in time where I was told I wasn’t going to be able to ski.”

Walsh, a two-time Paralympian, had two bronze medals from the world championships to his name, but in his five previous Paralympic races he had yet to medal. His previous best came three days earlier when he was fourth in the super combined.

The Vail, Colorado native was in first place following the first giant slalom run after posting a time of 57.60, and then clocked a fifth-best 57.84 in his second run, during which he toughened it out to maintain his balance under the sweltering sun on the hill.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be the fastest run as the snow conditions were a little rough. I kind of shook my head, but I got to the bottom and tried to pipe the last three turns,” he said. “Maybe I should have had another sip of water to get a little more weight for those four hundredths, but I did it and made it down.”

Following his race, Walsh reflected on the long journey that got him to the podium, from Mikaela Shiffrin’s mother, Eileen, teaching him to move his hips at every turn as a kid, to arriving five days late in Yanqing due to COVID protocols last week.

There is so much along the way that will be just as big, if not bigger, than this moment for him.

“At the end of the day it’s just a piece of metal,” he said. “It’s about the experiences and the friendships and memories that I’ve made in my career as a skier, as well as for all the coaches and ski instructors, and most importantly, my mom. Being at the Paralympics is a huge deal and I’m really happy to get this medal to say I did it, but this doesn’t change what I do and why I do it.”

Walsh will have one more race at these Paralympics, the slalom on Sunday, before heading back home to Colorado where he said his celebration will be simple – going skiing with his friends.

Tyler Carter poses for a photo after the men's giant slalom finals at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 10, 2022 in Beijing.


Tyler Carter bids farewell

In his final Paralympic race, three-time Paralympian Tyler Carter finished 33rd in the men’s standing giant slalom, but his placement was the last thing that mattered. Since being inspired to become a Paralympian while watching the Vancouver 2010 Games in the stands as a young student athlete, the 28-year-old has put every muscle he has into his sport and let it all out the moment his retirement hit.

“I keep crying. I can’t stop the water works. It goes and flows,” said Carter. “A lot of emotions are going on right now, but mostly happiness. It’s been a long journey. I’ve been doing this for 16 years, and these last few were really, really tough. To be able to make these Games and race in four events and give it my heart and my all and to see our team really fight, you can’t really ask for anything more.”

Team USA showcases depth

Elsewhere in the men’s giant slalom event on Thursday, 17-year-old Jesse Keefe was 15th in 2:04.54, Paralympic debutant Patrick Halgren was 26th in 2:12.04, and two-time Paralympian Andrew Haraghey was 28th in 2:14.33 in the men’s standing classification. 

Four-time Paralympian Jasmin Bambur led the Americans in the men’s sitting classification with a 16th-place finish in 2:12.03. He was followed by Ravi Drugan in 20th in 2:14.80, Robert Engil in 21st in 2:15.00, and Matthew Brewer in 25th in 2:19.44. U.S. Army veteran David Williams did not finish.

The Para alpine skiing competition will continue in Yanqing on Friday with the women’s giant slalom, with Allie Johnson and Danelle Umstead both expected to compete in the women’s standing and visually impaired classifications, respectively.

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Paralympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.

Stuart Lieberman

Stuart Lieberman has covered Paralympic sports for more than 10 years, including for the International Paralympic Committee at the London 2012, Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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