PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — It was a warm day today full of turns and new winnings for the american team.
In the second day of Alpine skiing at the Jeongseon Alpine centre, the atmosphere was out of this world. Today’s course worked in favor of Andrew Kurka, who claimed a silver medal for the U.S.
Super G the second speed discipline started with the women’s visually impaired category. The course didn’t serve Staci Manella well who finished in 10th position while her racing buddy Danelle Umstead fared better in 6th position.
The Standing category had a similar fate. The United States skiers raced their hearts out but unfortunately it wasn’t fast enough. Stephanie Jallen from Harding, PA, came in 10th and 16-year-old Ally Kunkel came in at 7th position. Stephanie could still be seen and with an optimistic attitude as ski down the slopes. Marie Bochet won her second gold in PyeongChang for France.
Anna Schaffelhuber, won her 7th gold medal in the Women’s sitting category making Germany proud. Considered the most decorated Paralympian on Team USA, Laurie Stephens, finished 5th.
Andrew Kurka returned to the podium winning silver in the men’s sitting super-G his second medal in the games after winning Gold in sitting downhill on Saturday.
Amy, Andrew’s mom was in the stands passionately supporting her son. Deep down, she just knew that her son was going to make America proud one more day for a second day in-a-row “He’s always been really aggressive and whatever is in front of him he conquers and moves on to the next!” she said. Aspen’s Thomas Walsh finished in 13th position in mens standing.
At the Alpensia Biathlon Center, Cross Country skiing got underway with women and men sit skiers contesting their longest event for the Games, 12km and 15km, respectively with Team USA claiming three podium finishes. The morning started cold, breezy with the sun shining it began to get warmed as the day progressed for the first time during these 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.
The warming trend brought with it, changing snow conditions for the ski waxing teams and athletes to adjust to. Team USA’s Andy Soule, who finished 11th today, a three-time Paralympian and U.S. Army veteran said after the race, “The snow was a little soft in places, but it held up pretty good.”
The sit skiers raced on a 3km loop that wound through the stadium. The delighted spectators had brilliant opportunities to watch and cheer for the hard working competitors chasing after each other at every turn. The men started their 15km event at 10am while the snow was still firm and fast, but by about half through their competition they were noticeably working harder to maintain their speed in the softening snow.
Dan Cnossen overcame the day’s challenges like snow meltage to grab silver despite the terrain conditions “Today’s race was very tough, it’s a different kind of race than Biathlon, for me at least it’s a different mindset” he continued, “it’s all about digging as deep as I can and going as hard as I can”.
Later, the women’s 12km pushed off. Fresh Gold medalist, from yesterday’s Biathlon event, Kendall Gretsch and Silver Medalist Oksana Masters battled it out with a total of eighteen competitors. True to form Kendall took Gold one more time. The paralympian, who debuted on Saturday said on her astonishing winnings “It’s pretty unbelievable, yeah I’m really excited, it’s unexpected, I really didn’t know what to expect coming in to these Games”.
Oksana Masters continued her podium run with a Bronze medal. In the men’s, Sean Halsted, a U.S. Air Force veteran and three-time Paralympian finished the race on the 22nd place out of a field of 27 men.
Meanwhile, at the Gangneung Hockey Centre, the USA Sled Hockey team took to the ice to face Japan and a minute and one second into the match we had the game winner. Then it turned into a scoring party. 10-0. Brody Roybal lead the way in this one with a hat trick.
Jen Lee picked up the shut out, with only two shots on goal. After the game, Head Coach Guy Gosselin praised his first line which had a combined 5 goals:
“I think you know they are prepared to play. They utilize their speed better and use their skills to move the puck together,” explained Gosselin.
Forward Nikko Landeros who picked up two assists and had one goal stated, “Every Game is a gold medal game for us,” Nikko Landeros told reporters after the game, continuing, “We’re just trying our hardest and we are trying to get to the gold medal.”