Men’s Snowboarding Sweeps Podium, Amy Purdy Takes Bronze

photo by Ken King Michael Shea gets some air during the first ever Paralympic Snowboarding competition
photo by Ken King
Michael Shea gets some air during the first ever Paralympic Snowboarding competition

Written by Eric Gissendanner

The United States wasted no time in asserting which country would dominate the snowboarding slopes on Friday. Making its Paralympic debut, the snowboard cross event saw a clean sweep by the Americans, as Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii) took gold, while Mike Shea (Castaic, Calif.) grabbed silver and Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) captured bronze. The trio gave the United States its first Paralympic Winter Games sweep since the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Today also marked the first time in U.S. history that men swept all three podium spots in a single event. The men were not alone, though, as Amy Purdy (Las Vegas, Nev.) sealed up the bronze medal on the women’s side.

Coming into the event, the United States fielded a full team of five men and five women snowboarders. Each athlete takes three solo runs down the hill and each individual’s best-two timed runs determines overall placement.

As the men’s competition progressed, the question was not if the United States would medal, but how many times? On the men’s side, Shea and Strong battled over the top spot. Shea’s first run of 52.29 was the best among the initial runs, but Strong responded by besting his American competitor (and the whole field) with a second run of 51.62. Strong’s second-run posting gave him a 0.01 lead heading into the third and final heat. By comparison, Shea registered a 51.89 second run. Not to be left out, Gabel recorded a first run of 54.02, and then a second run of 53.61.

That all set the suspense for a decisive third heat to crown a champion. Strong continued to impress, clocking in at 51.99, while Shea slipped to a 1:00.27. By far his slowest run of the day, Shea had to rely on his opening two runs, but that was not enough as Strong took the gold by a 0.57 second differential. Meanwhile, Gabel remained third, as he stayed under the 54-second mark in two of his three runs. This trio was joined by Tyler Burdick (Salt Lake City, Utah) who recorded an eighth place finish in 1:52.49, while Daniel Monzo (Glenwood, N.J.) took home 18th in 2:07.52.

On the women’s side, five Americans registered top-10 results. Purdy’s best two runs combined for a 2:14.29 time, while Cristina Albert (Holladay, Utah) clocked in at 2:35.26. Heidi Jo Duce (Winter Park, Col.) was fifth in 2:37.43, Nicole Roundy (Salt Lake City, Utah) came in eighth at 2:59.57, and Megan Harmon (Salt Lake City, Utah) rounded out the top-10 in 3:31.09.

Men’s Snowboarding Sweeps Podium, Amy Purdy Takes Bronze

The United States wasted no time in asserting which country would dominate the snowboarding slopes on Friday. Making its Paralympic debut, the snowboard cross event saw a clean sweep by the Americans, as Evan Strong (Maui, Hawaii) took gold, while Mike Shea (Castaic, Calif.) grabbed silver and Keith Gabel (Ogden, Utah) captured bronze. The trio gave the United States its first Paralympic Winter Games sweep since the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Today also marked the first time in U.S. history that men swept all three podium spots in a single event. The men were not alone, though, as Amy Purdy (Las Vegas, Nev.) sealed up the bronze medal on the women’s side.

Coming into the event, the United States fielded a full team of five men and five women snowboarders. Each athlete takes three solo runs down the hill and each individual’s best-two timed runs determines overall placement.

As the men’s competition progressed, the question was not if the United States would medal, but how many times? On the men’s side, Shea and Strong battled over the top spot. Shea’s first run of 52.29 was the best among the initial runs, but Strong responded by besting his American competitor (and the whole field) with a second run of 51.62. Strong’s second-run posting gave him a 0.01 lead heading into the third and final heat. By comparison, Shea registered a 51.89 second run. Not to be left out, Gabel recorded a first run of 54.02, and then a second run of 53.61.

That all set the suspense for a decisive third heat to crown a champion. Strong continued to impress, clocking in at 51.99, while Shea slipped to a 1:00.27. By far his slowest run of the day, Shea had to rely on his opening two runs, but that was not enough as Strong took the gold by a 0.57 second differential. Meanwhile, Gabel remained third, as he stayed under the 54-second mark in two of his three runs. This trio was joined by Tyler Burdick (Salt Lake City, Utah) who recorded an eighth place finish in 1:52.49, while Daniel Monzo (Glenwood, N.J.) took home 18th in 2:07.52.

On the women’s side, five Americans registered top-10 results. Purdy’s best two runs combined for a 2:14.29 time, while Cristina Albert (Holladay, Utah) clocked in at 2:35.26. Heidi Jo Duce (Winter Park, Col.) was fifth in 2:37.43, Nicole Roundy (Salt Lake City, Utah) came in eighth at 2:59.57, and Megan Harmon (Salt Lake City, Utah) rounded out the top-10 in 3:31.09.

Today’s accolades gave the United States its first gold medal of this year’s Paralympics. The Americans had six silver medals coming into the day until Strong and Shea changed all that.

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