U.S. Paralympics Alp... News Patrick Halgren Is U...

Patrick Halgren Is Undefeated In Costume Contests

By Al Daniel | Oct. 31, 2022, 4:47 p.m. (ET)

Patrick Halgren, dressed as a swimmer escaping a shark attack, mid-air on skis. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Halgren)

At the dawn of another Para alpine ski season, Patrick Halgren has a foundation to build upon after making his Paralympic debut earlier this year in Beijing.


Before those 2022-23 competitions start though, the Tolland, Connecticut, native has a 5-0 lifetime record in costume contests to uphold.


“Originally (I) thought (the costumes) would be funny and an easy way to have fun with my amputation,” said Halgren, who had his left leg amputated above the knee following a 2013 motorcycle accident. “Sometimes it’s true laughter is the best cure.”


That sense of humor was on full display at the Remarkables ski area in Queenstown, New Zealand, in 2017. While Halgren was working as a chain fitter at the resort, he participated in the Red Bull Jump & Freeze. 


For that event, snow athletes convene at the Remarkables late in the local winter to flaunt some fun fashion and take a downhill leap into a frigid pool. Halgren dressed up as a shark attack victim complete with a prop assailant, fake blood and surfing equipment.


He participated in the event again in 2018, this time as a peg-legged pirate. Halgren walked away with victories both years he dressed up for the event.


Those victories came from Halgren being able to distract himself by coming up with a creative costume, which helps him not overthink while he was competing. 


“I think you must be a well-rounded person and you must be able to get your mind off of just thinking about competition,” he said. “The creativity of designing a costume makes me use a different part of my mind to create a good show, and it gets you used to being watched by lots of people, so you’re used to the pressure from the viewers.


Halgren’s first triumph in a costume contest came a few years earlier in New York, when he stood tall as the victor of a Halloween contest at the Empire State Building. For his efforts, he won VIP access to lofty viewing decks and gift certificates to neighboring restaurants.


Another go-to costume design for Halgren is time-honored cartoon characters.


“Being an amputee with a GI Joe attachment as a leg or choosing to do a costume accustomed to a missing leg is fun to get to think outside the box with my designs,” Halgren said.


Sometimes deciding on the costumes is a process. When he must, though, Halgren can come up with them on short notice. For that, he credits his parents and the precedent they set ahead of a given Halloween.


“My mom and dad have always been pretty creative, even when we didn’t have much to work with,” he said. “This taught me to have a big imagination.


Whether he makes something of that this year remains to be seen. Halgren, 30, has spent the past week’s run-up to Halloween at Team USA’s training camp in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.


For the moment, he is prioritizing his physical and mental energy for the slopes. But when he was reached from camp, his window for shining on his signature holiday had not shut yet.


I like the spur-of-the-moment creative juices just as much as the yearlong planning for a cool décor,” Halgren said last week.


Whatever he might produce in 2022, he is itching to further merge his athletic and artistic worlds with the national team — whose uniform unveiling he always looks forward to.


With Halloween and other costume-calling occasions, the fashion champ and aspiring Paralympic medalist has a natural bonding exercise and an extra means of bringing out the best in his teammates.


“I believe it can be a great way to get new ideas, and it’s always a bonus to see different perspectives on how to dress up, and you always learn so much with the dialogue of creating things as a team,” he said.


Al Daniel

Al Daniel is a freelance features writer and contributor to USParaAlpineSkiing.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. Follow him on Twitter @WriterAlDaniel.