Andrew Kurka competes at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. (Photo: Joe Kusumoto)
Every other week we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para alpine skiing. Here’s what you missed!
Laurie Stephens, Andrew Kurka Among 18 Named To National Squads
Five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and three-time Paralympian Andrew Kurka were among 18 athletes named to the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing’s national and developmental teams.
The roster includes 12 members of the team who competed in the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. That includes Thomas Walsh, a two-time Paralympian who won a silver medal in giant slalom in Beijing, and Stephens, a seven-time Paralympic medalist with two gold medals.
The national team is focused on the 2023 World Para Snow Sports Championships, which will now need a new host country after the Swedish Parasport Association announced it will not host the competition. The big prize awaits them at the Paralympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026.
Joining Stephens, Kurka and Walsh on the national team are 2022 Paralympians Andrew Haraghey, Spencer Wood, Patrick Halgren, Jesse Keefe, Connor Hogan, Allie Johnson, Jasmin Bambur, Ravi Drugan and Matthew Brewer, along with teenager Saylor O’Brien, who is on the national team for the first time.
Paralympians Kyle Taulman and Robert Enigl, both sit skiers, are two of the five athletes that were named to the development team. Standing skiers Audrey Crowley, Martin Moxley and Tyler McKenzie round out the rest of the development team.
You can read more about the national and development teams here.
Paralympian Allie Johnson Dreams Big
Allie Johnson is another one of the athletes making her first national team, which is coming off her Paralympic debut in Beijing. Her recent success almost didn’t happen due to a crash in a downhill race in 2020 that resulted in a broken tibia and fibula.
She posted on Instagram to express what making the national team means to her.
“This week I accepted my nomination to the 2022/2023 US National Paralympic Alpine Team,” she wrote. “This has been a goal of mine for the last four years and I’m so incredibly proud that for the first time, I could make it a reality.
“Four years of pushing myself, being brave and dreaming big; four years of falling in love with this sport and the community it’s provided; four years of blood, sweat and (a lot, I mean, a lot of) tears have all led me to this moment.”
Wedding Bells In Mexico
Here’s a summer trip to Mexico never to be forgotten. Three-time Paralympian Andrew Kurka went to Guadalajara, Mexico, to marry his fiancé Veronica Quezada in early July.
The wedding was nearly nine months in planning following their announced engagement in October 2021. Kurka proposed to Quezada during a snorkeling trip to Punta Mita along coastal western Mexico. He put a message in a bottle on the beach.
Hundreds reacted to this wedding photo on Instagram:
And let’s not forget about the bachelor’s party that began with a fishing trip:
And here’s a photo of the wedding cake topper:
Kurka, a two-time Paralympic medalist, warmed up for the wedding by finishing fourth in the men’s downhill at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 despite a wrist injury he suffered during the competition.
Following Jasmin Bambur’s Remarkable Paralympic Journey
Jasmin Bambur’s Paralympic path began years ago when he met Bert Burns, a Paralympic gold medalist wheelchair racer at a rehab center in Atlanta.
“I was like, hell, if this guy can do it, I can do it 10 times better,” Bambur said. “Literally the next morning I told them to put me into anything you can. The rest is history.”
Now 42 and a four-time Paralympian, Bambur recently reflected upon his career in a story on USParaAlpineSkiing.org.
Happy Fourth Celebrations
Two-time Paralympian Andrew Haraghey was among Team USA athletes celebrating on the Fourth of July.
“No day like today that makes me proud to have the opportunity to represent my country!” he posted on Instagram.
Thomas Walsh had plenty of company at Vail Golf Club in Colorado to celebrate the holiday with while showing off his silver medal from Beijing.