What To Watch Each Day Of The 2018 Paralympic Winter Games

By Stuart Lieberman | March 09, 2017, 11:30 a.m. (ET)

In exactly one year at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, 80 sets of medals will be up for grab across five sports: alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, sled hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling.

The Games will feature nearly 670 athletes, which is a 24 percent increase from the number of athletes who competed at the Sochi 2014 Games. This includes a 44 percent increase in the number of female athletes competing.

Here’s a day-by-day look at to watch each day from Team USA during the Paralympics, not including wheelchair curling, for which the round-robin schedule will be announced at a later date.

 

Day 1 – March 9
Agitos

For just the second time, the Paralympic Winter Games will take place in an Asian country, with 45 countries expected to attend the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. As part of hosting the Games, the PyeongChang organizing committee has unrolled “Actualizing the Dream,” an initiative aimed at promoting Paralympic winter sports, raising the awareness of Paralympic athletes and securing the social inclusion of people with an impairment. This is likely to be an underlying theme in the Opening Ceremony.

 

Day 2 – March 10

The alpine skiing downhill races will highlight the first day of competition in PyeongChang, with six-time Alaskan state champion wrestler Andrew Kurka expected to vie for his first Paralympic medal in the sit-ski classification after having just won his first world title in the event in February. Kurka has been riddled by injuries at major competitions in the past, and was unable to compete at the Sochi Games after breaking his back during his first training run there. But if he’s healthy in PyeongChang, a podium finish could be in the cards.

 

Day 3 – March 11
Stephanie Jallen

In Sochi, standing skier Stephanie Jallen stole the headlines at the super-G medal ceremony when she threw down her crutch, jumped onto the podium and collected her medal with tears streaming down her face. She was named the Best Female Paralympian and that moment was named the Best Moment of the Games at the Team USA Awards. With another four years of experience under her belt, Jallen will be 22 in PyeongChang and will try to return to the super-G podium after finishing fourth and fifth in the event at the last two world championships.

 

Day 4 – March 12

Snowboardcross will return for its second Paralympics, and this time athletes will go head-to-head in three separate classifications, separated by upper-limb impairments (UL) and lower-limb impairments (LL1 and LL2). Team USA’s Evan Strong won the gold medal in the event at the Sochi Games and will try to defend his Paralympic title after taking silver at the most recent world championships. In the upper-limb class, look for newcomer Mike Minor to be the favorite; he’s undefeated on the slopes over the past year and is fresh off winning his first world title.

 

Day 5 – March 13

In 2010, Andy Soule, who lost both his legs while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, became the first Olympian or Paralympian to win a medal in biathlon. At the 2014 Games, he had two fourth-place finishes and a fifth-place finish. Now, one of the most decorated U.S. skiers in history will look to return to the podium in biathlon’s middle-distance events in PyeongChang. With a combined seven medals at the last two world championships, he’s certainly Team USA’s best medal hopeful in biathlon on the men’s side.

 

Day 6 – March 14

Oksana Masters has had a remarkable start to 2017, winning five medals — four of them gold — at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships, making her the most successful U.S. woman ever at a Nordic world championships. Already a three-time Paralympian in rowing, cycling and Nordic skiing, the Kentucky native who was adopted from Ukraine could go for her first Paralympic title in PyeongChang today in the cross-country sprint.

 

Day 7 – March 15

Over the last two Paralympic cycles, Team USA has dominated international sled hockey competition, and heading into April’s world championships the program has won six straight major international titles dating back to the Sochi Games. Much of that can be credited to the surge of teenage forwards Declan Farmer (19) and Brody Roybal (18). The duo, who have combined for an astounding 32 goals and 35 assists over 14 games the last two seasons, are expected to carry Team USA into the sled hockey semifinals on Day 7 of action in PyeongChang.

 

Day 8 – March 16

Rising star Brenna Huckaby will be one to watch in the snowboard’s new banked slalom discipline. A former gymnast now competing in the women’s LL1 classification, Huckaby will enter the event as the world-title holder and has the potential to claim a gold medal at what is likely to be her Paralympic debut at 22 years old.

 

Day 9 – March 17

Team USA will try to keep its sled hockey winning streak alive and will be a heavy favorite to make the gold-medal contest on the penultimate day of action in PyeongChang. The team will likely be anchored by two-time Paralympic champion goaltender Steve Cash and two-time Paralympic champion defenseman Josh Pauls.

 

Day 10 – March 18

Winning their first Paralympic medal in the alpine skiing standing slalom competition would be a great way to cap off the PyeongChang Games for Jamie Stanton and Thomas Walsh. Both breakout stars, Stanton was fourth in the event at the most recent world championships, while Walsh has consistently been one of the top-ranked slalom athletes on the world cup circuit. Should they make the team, it will be the second go-around at the Games for Stanton, while Walsh, who was inspired by his high school prom date Mikaela Shiffrin, would be making his Paralympic debut.

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.