Thomas Walsh hits the slopes in PyeongChang. (Photo: Mark Reis)
With the countdown to the Winter Paralympic Games Beijing 2022 in full swing, the host sites in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou hosted their first para alpine and snowboarding events at the end of February.
The para alpine events will be held in the Yanquing Zone, along with bobsled, luge and skeleton. Meanwhile, snowboarding will be one of the events held in the Zhangjiakou zone.
The official test events slated for this year were canceled because of ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, but the venue hosted eight para alpine races as part of the Asian Cup season to help test the venue infrastructure, train staff and improve safety protocols, according to a story on paralympic.org.
A total of 20 snow sports were contested at Olympic and Paralympic venues, albeit only with Chinese athletes, throughout February. Read the full story here.
U.S. Athletes Podium In Lone World Cup Contest
Four members of the U.S. para alpine team traveled to Leogang, Austria, in February for world cup racing for the first — and last — time this season. Laurie Stephens and Ravi Drugan reached the podium, with the veteran Stephens finishing second in two slalom races and third in one giant slalom race in the LW12-1 classification.
Drugan, a second-year national team member, took third in one of his sitting LW12-2 classification slalom races. It was his first world cup medal.
In a story on paralympic.org, Drugan said, “Winning my first World Cup medal is … a great accomplishment and goes to show if you stick in it and fight hard you can still end up with a good result. Getting on the podium with far from my best skiing is not quite the way I imagined winning my first World Cup medal but a win’s a win. It’s motivation to continue to work hard and be my best.”
Read the full story from Leogang here.
Andrew Kurka, who’s more of a speed racer than a technical one, finished as high as fifth in giant slalom, while rookie David Williams did not finish in his giant slalom races.
Wrote Kurka of the experience in Leogang, “Hey! Got in☝️ World Cup this season. I’ll settle. I know where I’m sitting and I’m still in the mix. Now to get to work! One year until @beijing2022”
Kurka, who won gold in downhill and silver in super-G in PyeongChang in 2018, was also featured on the Paralympic alpine site while in Leogang.
Walsh Hits The Backcountry
Paralympian Thomas Walsh recently had some fun leaving Vail proper and heading into the backcountry on the famed Minturn Mile ski run that leads from the resort down to the town of Minturn. Posting a photo to Instagram at the signpost signaling the end of the resort and the beginning of the backcountry, he wrote, “Today easily made the top five in my life’s most memorable moments on skis.#top5 #minturnmile #ski #memorable #life”
Haraghey Back On Snow
It was a happy day for national team member and 2018 Paralympian Andrew Haraghey when he got to get back on snow recently. Haraghey wrote on Instagram back in October that he’d ended his season on his second day, with a photo of him in bed with his right foot wrapped up and propped on a pillow.
In late February, however, he followed that up with a photo of him in his sit ski ready to head down a run, writing, “Ski boot on the feet>ski boot on the butt. But I'll take what I can get. Missed being on snow, and enjoying the outdoors. Also who convinced me to run a slalom course my first day?”
Getting Pumped For 2022
Beijing 2022 posted a video to Twitter showing Yanquing, site of next winter’s Olympics and Paralympics for alpine skiing, bobsled, skeleton and luge, covered in snow.
Para Snow Sports will be posting throughout the week to celebrate the one-year-out mark of the opening of the Paralympics on March 4.