Young U.S. Alpine Team Skis Full Speed Ahead For PyeongChang

By Brianna Tammaro | Dec. 17, 2017, 11:33 a.m. (ET)

Andrew Kurka, pictured above at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, is aiming for his first Paralympic medal in PyeongChang.

Before heading to PyeongChang in less than 100 days for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing Team will travel across Europe beginning Tuesday in Kuhtai, Austria for the start of the 2017-18 world cup season.  With six stops on the circuit, athletes will put everything on the line in seek of a coveted place on Team USA in South Korea.

Team USA comes off winning five medals—one gold, one silver and three bronze—in January at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Tarvisio, Italy. Andrew Kurka (Palmer, Alaska) led the charge for the U.S. with a medal of each color, capturing his first world title with gold in the men’s sitting downhill competition. Though named to the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team, Kurka will seek to compete in his first Games after being injured in a training run ahead of competition in Sochi.

The U.S. team had the chance to race for medals at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals, skiing on the same slopes they would be competing on just a year later in March 2018. With three different athletes winning four medals and seven athletes finishing in the top-three for the overall season rankings, Team USA showed its depth as a medal contender leading into the Winter Games.

This marks one of the youngest teams in program history with athletes who have already made a name of themselves on the international stage. Six of the youngest members on the national team represented the red, white and blue at Sochi 2014, led by then 18-year-old Stephanie Jallen, the second youngest member of the team behind Paralympian Staci Mannella (Randolph, New Jersey). That same group collected four of Team USA’s five medals won at the 2017 world championships and has stacked 14 podium performances during the 2016-17 world cup season, including multiple medals from Thomas Walsh (Vail, Colorado) and Paralympian Jamie Stanton (Clinton Township, Michigan).

Follow Team USA at the first World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup in Kuhtai, Austria from December 19-22 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Live results can be found on the IPC website