Noah Elliott competes in banked slalom at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. (Photo: Mark Reis)
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding today announced the eight men and seven women who will represent Team USA at the 2023 FIS Para Snowboard World Championships in La Molina, Spain.
Originally scheduled for January, the event was postponed due to snow conditions and is set to kick off March 10 with snowboardcross competition. The program also includes a team snowboardcross race, as well as dual banked slalom competition.
Team USA will bring a host of newcomers to La Molina – seven team members will be making their world championships debut. They will look to the eight athletes who have competed on the sport’s biggest stage, combining for 15 Paralympic medals and eight world titles.
The Americans are led by three-time Paralympic champion Brenna Huckaby (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), who returns to world championships competition looking to defend the gold medal she won in dual banked slalom at last year’s World Para Snow Sports Championships. Huckaby also won silver in snowboardcross before bringing home a gold and a bronze at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Huckaby’s three Paralympic gold medals are tied for the most ever by a Paralympic snowboarder.
In the men’s LL1 class, Paralympic champions Noah Elliott (St. Charles, Missouri) and Mike Schultz (St. Cloud, Minnesota) are seeking repeat performances after going 1-2 in the dual banked slalom at last year’s world championships. Both riders are enjoying successful seasons this year – Schultz finished first and fourth in the men’s LL1 overall banked slalom and snowboardcross rankings, while Elliott took second in the banked slalom overall competition.
Headlining the men’s LL2 class for Team USA are Paralympic medalists Evan Strong (Haiku, Hawaii) and Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah), as well as world champion Zach Miller (Silverthorne, Colorado). All three athletes competed at both Beijing 2022 and world championships last season, where Miller was crowned world champion in dual banked slalom. Each three-time Paralympians, Strong and Gabel earned podium spots in the overall FIS rankings this season. Strong took third in both the men’s LL2 banked slalom and snowboardcross competition, while Gabel placed second in snowboardcross.
Rounding out the men’s LL2 athletes is Joe Pleban (Fredericksburg, Virginia). Pleban made his world championships debut last year, where he recorded a top-10 result in dual banked slalom.
Two men’s UL athletes will represent Team USA in Spain – Paralympic champion Mike Minor (Frisco, Colorado) and newcomer Tyler Divilio (Happauge, New York). Minor, a two-time Paralympic medalist, returns to world championships for the first time since 2017, when he won two medals. Divilio, meanwhile, is making his international debut.
After a successful rookie season on the world and Europa cup circuits, Dennae Russell (Sturgis, South Dakota) and Darian Haynes (Muncie, Indiana) are set to compete in their first world championships in the women’s LL1 and UL classes, respectively. Both in their first seasons competing internationally, Russell finished second overall in world cup snowboardcross and third in banked slalom rankings, while Haynes won the overall banked slalom title.
Also making their world championships debuts are women’s UL athletes Peggy Martin (Golden, Colorado) and Jennifer Ackers (Brant Beach, New Jersey), as well as women’s LL1 athletes Rebecca Johnston (Hood River, Oregon) and Jamie Blanek (Waco, Texas). Martin has previously competed on the world cup circuit, winning a silver medal in 2020.
La Molina will be the final international stop in the 2022-23 season for Team USA.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.
2023 FIS Para Snowboard World Championships Roster