Recap Day Five: US Nordic Skiing Team On the Top

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea —Giant Slalom tests athletes agility and speed at the same time. There are two runs and the second run is on a different course. The final medalists are based on the combined score of both runs. After both runs in the Women’s Visually Impaired category Danelle Umstead came in 8th and Staci Manella came in 10th. It was Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova who won her 4th Gold medal of the games here in PyeongChang in Giant Slalom.

Ally Kunkel finished 8th and Stephanie Jallen came in 10th after the second run in the Women’s standing category. Laurie Stephens looked great coming down but had to settle for 7th in the end. Kevin Burton unfortunately got disqualified in his first run which meant he would not be racing a second run in the Visually Impaired category for men. In the final run of Men’s Giant Slalom Standing category Thomas Walsh came in 7th and Jamie Stanton came in 14th.

Laurie Stephens competes in the Women’s Giant Slalom on March 14th, 2018 in the Winter Paralympic Games. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

For the men’s sitting category Tyler Walker was sitting in the first position after run one while Andrew Kurka the favorite missed a gate during his first run and was out of the race. The course stumped a lot of athletes with US’s Jasmin Bambur, Lawler Stephen and Josh Elliot not completing the course. In the final run of Men’s sitting Tyler Walker finished strong with a silver medal for Team USA. All’s well that ends well. A great day of racing happened at the Giant Slalom in PyeongChang.

Tyler Walker competes in the men’s sitting giant slalom at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 14, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

For today’s March 14th event, the Nordic skiers brought out their short sleeves and shorts to declared it was officially spring skiing in the Alpensia Biathlon Center. On this very hot day, all of Team USA’s Nordic athletes and coaches, were present and accounted for, to join in the slugfest that would eventually crown the King and Queen of the sprint races. (Honorable mentions go out to Aaron Pike, Sean Halsted, Jeremy Wagner, Kendall Gretsch, Joy Rondeau, Grace Miller, Mia Zutter, Jake Adicoff – disqualified, for their gallant efforts on the course today)

Jeremy Wagner USA competes in the Cross-Country Skiing Sitting Men’s 1.1km Sprint at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre. The Paralympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Wednesday 14th March 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC.

After three cat and mouse qualifying matches, America’s bionic woman, Oksana Masters threw down the gauntlet with blazing speed in the final contest of the 1.1km to claim her golden crown. This would be Oksana’s first gold medal of her cross country skiing career, “I feel like I’m on cloud nine right now. I’ve been chasing this gold medal and this feeling for such a long time. I can’t believe this is really happening right now…This is the most amazing medal of my career. I cannot believe this. Oh my gosh. I cannot wait to put it around my mom’s neck. I told her the first gold, it’s hers”.

Oksana Masters USA celebrates winning in the Cross-Country Skiing Sitting Women’s 1.1km Sprint Final at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre. The Paralympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Wednesday 14th March 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC.

Military veterans and US Paralympic teammates, Dan Cnossen and Andy Soule never looked back today as they dominated the field of the 36 gladiators. In the final dash for the golden crown five fearless warriors left the start with one plan in mind, get the gold. Dan Cnossen took the lead and was followed by the rest of the closely knit pack. As the group blasted the final downhill, Andy Soule came from the back to out sprint the field and claim the golden crown in a photo finish moment with the silver medalist Dzmitry Loban from Belarus. Closing in on the finish line, Dan began to fade but would hold on for the bronze.

The next event at Alpensia Biathlon Center will be March 16th, Women’s 12.5km and Men’s 15km Biathlon.

The past two days have not bode well for the US Paralympic Curling Team. After losing the past two games to China and the Canadian Curling Teams, the US hoped to keep their bout for playoffs alive against the top teams going into day 5 of the Round Robin.

The first Round Robin of the day came against one of the middle-of-the-pack teams in Switzerland. The US came out scoring in the first end after a well curled stone was placed behind a guard, but they dropped the next two ends to the Swiss Team in a 7-4 loss, scoring only twice more after that.

After scoring in the first end against a Great Britain Curling Team, also in the middle of rankings, they allowed GB to score one stone in the second end, tying the game at 1-1. The US was able to finally show the dominance we saw in Sochi, scoring in half the ends of the match, and caught some breaks scoring 3 and 2 stones in the next two ends. After scoring 3 more stones in the 6th end, the US Team left the game at 9-3 going into the 7th, where after they took home their first dominant victory, too little, too late, in the 2018 Paralympics.

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