Paralympic Alpine Skier Andrew Kurka poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 26, 2017 in Park City, Utah.
National Team Season Gets Underway
The U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing Team left this week for a training camp in Austria, marking the squad’s first time together since before the pandemic shut down the sports world in March 2020.
Laurie Stephens, back for a 17th season, is among the 10 athletes on this year’s team, which was named earlier this month. The four-time Paralympian and seven-time medalist is coming off another strong season in 2019-20 in which she won a fourth overall world cup crystal globe.
Stephens, 36, is one of eight 2018 Paralympians on the team, and one of two Paralympic medalists, along with Andrew Kurka. Stephens won a bronze medal in sitting downhill at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Kurka won a gold and silver medal in sitting downhill and super-G at those Games.
The other returning Paralympians on this year’s team are Andrew Haraghey, Connor Hogan, Allison Kunkel, Stephen Lawler, Thomas Walsh and Spencer Wood.
The two newcomers are Ravi Drugan of Eugene, Oregon, and David Williams of Miami.
“Our 2020-21 National Team is a great mix of up-and-coming athletes and Paralympians at the pinnacle of their careers,” Kevin Jardine, Director of U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing, said in a press release. “With less than two years until Beijing 2022, our program is focused on athlete development and long-term success.”
The world cup season remains tentative due to ongoing restrictions for COVID-19, but the schedule currently calls for stops in Switzerland, Russia and China. The world championships are set for February in Lillehammer, Norway, in what would be a historic joint event also featuring world championships in Nordic skiing and snowboarding.
2014 Paralympian Joel Hunt Finds Home On Military Radio
Joel Hunt, a 2014 U.S. Paralympian in alpine skiing, has found a new niche as a radio host, reports the Goshen News in his native Indiana.
Hunt served three tours of duty in Iraq before being medically retired in 2007. Partially paralyzed and suffering from a traumatic brain injury, Hunt refocused around his favorite saying —
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do” — and eventually made the 2014 Paralympic team, competing in giant slalom in Sochi.
Not long after that Hunt took a shot at radio broadcasting. Despite having slurred speech from his injuries, the medium proved to be a good fit. A podcast eventually turned into “The H-Train Show,” which runs every Monday on Military Broadcast Radio. The show focuses on helping veterans navigate the various programs available to them.
“I think it’s so important (to give veterans a voice),” Hunt, who now lives in Colorado, told the Goshen News, “because when I was first out, it was almost like everything in life was a secret. And I don’t want people to fight like I had to find the resources they need. … And it also gives them a ton of confidence.”
Social Media Roundup
With the warm weather turning cooler across much of the country,
For noted Alaska booster Andrew Kurka, who hails from Palmer, that means the end of fishing season and the start of skiing season.
Three-time Paralympian Danelle Umstead might be getting back on her skis soon, too. Umstead, a three-time Paralympic medalist, proudly showed off her new stationary bike in an Instagram video this past month. The Park City, Utah, resident said she hopes the bike will help her get back in shape and on the slopes after breaking her leg in two spots in February.
So excited! This is not an ad. 🚲 💪🏻 😊 I ordered this to get help back in tip top shape for the season. Can’t wait to share with you all. - In this video Danelle is on her front porch standing in front of a big box that says nordictrack on it. Her guide dog is laying in front of box while she is talking. #blindgirl
Meanwhile, 2018 Paralympian Thomas Walsh helped close out the summer with some friends on the links in his hometown of Vail, Colorado. Between golfing and mountain climbing, Walsh more than took advantage of the famous skiing town’s warm weather this summer.