Get To Know Team USA's 2018 Collegiate Paralympians

By Melissa Katz | March 10, 2018, 2:16 a.m. (ET)

 

As the Paralympic Winter Games kick-off in PyeongChang, 74 athletes will compete for Team USA across five different sports. And of these athletes, two-thirds attended college and more than 20 percent have competitive collegiate athletic ties.

In total, 16 U.S. Paralympians competed collegiately at 14 different schools. Of the five Paralympic sports being contested in PyeongChang, Team USA has at least one collegiate tie in each sport.

Take a minute to learn more about these student-athletes representing Team USA in South Korea.

Jake Adicoff, a Nordic skier, is a current student-athlete at Bowdoin College. The two-time Paralympian is a four-year member of the Bears’ skiing team and was the U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing national champion in 2014.

Jasmin Bambur, an alpine skier, played handball for Middle Georgia College (now known as Middle Georgia State University) in the late 1990s. A center for the squad, Bambur helped lead the team to the 1999 Southeast Conference championship. After a tragic accident in 2000, he transitioned to alpine skiing, and has since represented the U.S. at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.

Nordic skier Dan Cnossen competed in club triathlon during his time the U.S. Naval Academy. After a combat injury in 2009, Cnossen began to train as a sit-skier. Since taking up the sport, he competed in multiple events at the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014, finishing as well as sixth in the cross-country sprint.

One of two University of Illinois student-athletes, Travis Dodson represented the Illini in wheelchair track while in school. A two-time Paralympian, the New Mexico native will play a key role on the front line of the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team.

Curler Steve Emt competed as a basketball student-athlete during his time at the University of Connecticut in the early 1990s. The Connecticut native and first-time Paralympian transitioned to wheelchair curling in 2012; he since went on to become a member of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 U.S. world championship teams.

Sean Halsted, a three-time Paralympic Nordic skier, was a rower at Washington State University. An all-conference selection, Halsted found Nordic skiing after a military injury in 1998. The Washington native has competed for the U.S. on the world cup circuit since 2008.

Sawyer Kesselheim, a guide for Adicoff, skied collegiately at Montana State University. During his time at MSU, Kesselheim earned two All-American honors before teaming up with Adicoff. PyeongChang will mark his first Paralympic Winter Games. 

Snowboarder Mark Mann spent time on the varsity basketball team while attending Bethel University. A first-time Paralympian, the Minnesota native most recently took home bronze in the snowboard-cross at the 2017 world championship.

One of three current student-athletes on the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Team, Staci Mannella will be competing in alpine skiing. An equestrian student-athlete at Dartmouth College, Mannella competes in the intermediate flat and novice fences for the Big Green. The New Jersey native skied for the U.S. in Sochi and most recently earned a bronze medal at the 2017 world championships.

Kevin McKee, a sled hockey player, competed collegiately at Wilbur Wright College in wheelchair basketball. McKee picked up sled hockey in 2000 and made his debut with the U.S. sled hockey national team during the 2010-11 season. The two-time Paralympian won gold with the U.S. in Sochi.

First-time Paralympian Josh Misiewicz, who will be representing Team USA in sled hockey, played NCAA Division III hockey for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. After a combat injury, Misiewicz was introduced to sled hockey in 2011. The Illinois native played a key role in winning gold at the 2015 sled hockey world championship.

Aaron Pike, a Nordic skier, competed as a wheelchair track and field student-athlete at Illinois. The four-time Paralympian has represented the U.S. in both the Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games. Last summer in Rio, Pike represented Team USA in the marathon event.

Kristina Trygstad-Saari, a guide for Mia Zutter, competed on the slopes as a student-athlete at Dartmouth. The Washington native represented the Big Green in the late 2000s and served as head coach of the Montana State Nordic ski team prior to transitioning into a guide. Trygstad-Saari is a first-time Paralympic guide.

Rob Umstead,> who will serve as a guide for his wife (Danielle Umstead) in alpine skiing, raced collegiately at the University of Massachusetts in the early 1990s. He became a full-time guide in 2008, and has since guided his wife to two bronze medals in Vancouver, and a bronze medal in Sochi. The Massachusetts native is guiding in his third Paralympic Winter Games.

Alpine skier Tyler Walker was a recreational adaptive skier for the University of New Hampshire-based Northeast Passage program. A four-time U.S. Paralympian, Walker most recently finished seventh in the giant slalom and eighth in the slalom at the 2017 world championships.

First-time Paralympian and Nordic skier Mia Zutter is currently a freshman on the College of Saint Scholastica cross-country ski team. Zutter is the first visually-impaired student-athlete to compete for St. Scholastica’s Nordic ski team – she took up the sport when she was in high school.