April 2014

The 2014 Winter Paralympics

USA vs. Russia in sled hockeyUSA vs. Russia in sled hockey

USA vs. Russia in sled hockey
The United States and Russian sled hockey teams faced off in a gold medal game during the Winter Paralympics.

The Winter Paralympics opened on March 7 in Sochi, Russia. The theme of the opening ceremony was “Breaking the Ice,” which focused on inclusiveness and overcoming obstacles. The Winter Paralympic Games is an international multi-sport event in which athletes with physical challenges compete. These include athletes with mobility challenges, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy.

The Winter Paralympics are held every four years directly following the Winter Olympics. They are hosted by the same city that hosts the Winter Olympics. Some of the venues this year were the same as those used in the Winter Olympics, including Fisht Olympic Stadium, where the opening ceremonies for both games were held.

Seventy-two medal events were held in the following sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey, wheelchair curling, and para-snowboarding. This was the first year para-snowboarding was part of the Winter Paralympics. Bibian Mental-Spee from the Netherlands became the first gold medal winner in women’s para-snowboarding. Evan Strong from the United States accomplished the same in men’s para-snowboarding.

This year’s Winter Paralympics had more ticket sales and more media coverage than any previous Winter Paralympics. For the first time in history, a Paralympic event was broadcast live on a major network in the United States. The event was a gold medal game in which the United States beat Russia in sled hockey. Sled hockey is a kind of ice hockey in which the players sit in double-blade sleds and pass the puck with two sticks.

Like many American Paralympic athletes, sled hockey player Josh Sweeney is a veteran of the U.S. military. Veterans made up 20 percent of the United States Paralympics team this year. In 2009, Sweeney lost both of his legs in an explosion in the war in Afghanistan. In the sled hockey game against Russia, he helped the U.S. team win the gold medal by making the game-winning goal. Alpine skier Jon Lujan is a former Marine Corps sergeant. He proudly served as the flag bearer for Team USA in the opening ceremony. The Winter Paralympics was a great opportunity for these U.S. veterans to represent their country once again.

Image credit: ©Mauro Ujetto/NurPhoto/Corbis

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Question 1
The Winter Paralympics are held in the same city that hosts what?

Question 2
What sport does U.S. military veteran Josh Sweeney play?

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