Andrew Kurka competes in the men's slalom sitting LW12-1 at the Winter Games New Zealand on Aug. 24, 2015 in Queenstown, New Zealand.
The Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 officially got underway with a cold but colorful Opening Ceremony on Friday at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang.
With temperatures in the low to mid-20s, snowboarder Mike Schultz carried the American flag and led Team USA into the venue.
This is the largest Winter Paralympics ever, with 567 athletes from 48 countries plus a team of neutral Paralympic athletes from Russia. Team USA has 74 qualified athletes, including six guides.
Among the Americans are 41 returning Paralympians and 33 first-time Paralympians competing in five sports: alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, sled hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling. Twenty-two are Paralympic medalists, and 12 are Paralympic champions.
Three athletes have competed at every Winter Games since 2006: alpine skiers Laurie Stephens and Tyler Walker, and sled hockey goalie Steve Cash. Four-time Paralympians Oksana Masters and Aaron Pike have competed in every Paralympics — winter and summer — since 2012 in London. Also, 18 Team USA athletes have served in the U.S. military.
Now the quest for medals is underway.
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How To Watch
|Time (ET)||Event||TV / Stream|
|6:00 AM||Opening Ceremony||NBCSN|
|7:30 PM||Alpine Men's and Women's Downhill||Olympic Channel|
|8:00 PM||Biathlon Men's 7.5km & Women's 6km (Sitting)||Stream via NBC Olympics|
|9:45 PM||Biathlon Men's 7.5km & Women's 6km (Standing)||Stream via NBC Olympics|
|11:00 PM||NBCSN: Biathlon, Alpine||NBCSN|
|12:35 AM||Wheelchair Curling: USA vs. South Korea||Stream via NBC Olympics|
Team USA’s Can’t-Miss Event
Alpine Skiing — Men’s and Women’s Downhill (9:30 a.m. Korea/7:30 p.m. ET Friday)
Andrew Kurka couldn’t compete in alpine skiing in Sochi in 2014 after breaking his back during his first training run at the venue. Although injuries have continued to plague the six-time Alaskan state champion wrestler, he’s ready to make his Paralympic debut in downhill and will try to add Paralympic gold to the world downhill title he won in February 2017. Kurka, 26, is also the defending world giant slalom silver medalist and super-G bronze medalist in the sitting class.
What Else Is On?
• Biathlon — Men’s and Women’s Sprint (10 a.m. Korea/8 p.m. ET Friday)
Oksana Masters is the reigning world champion in the biathlon sprint and Aaron Pike took fifth in the sprint at the world championships last year.
• Curling — USA vs. South Korea (2:35 p.m. Korea/12:35 a.m. ET)
The Americans open against the hosts in a campaign they hope will lead to Team USA’s first Paralympic medal in the event.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.