Men’s snowboard sweeps podium in Paralympic games |

Men’s snowboard sweeps podium in Paralympic games

The 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, wrapped up on Sunday, March 16, with the men's USA snowboarding team sweeping the first-ever para-snowboarding event, and some local athletes bringing home medals. Para-snowboard cross Evan Strong, Mike Shea, and Keith Gabel, all of Team USA, claimed gold, silver, and bronze medals respectively in the first-ever men's para-snowboard cross event held at the Winter Paralympics. The triple win marks the first American sweep in a Parlaympic Winter Games in 12 years, and the men's medal sweep in U.S. history. Not only did the men's snowboard team dominate the para-snowboard cross competition, but Amy Purdy of the women's snowboard team for Team USA claimed a bronze medal in the first women's para-snowboard cross. Sledge hockey The USA men's sledge hockey team beat out the Russian Federation team for the gold medal by scoring one point and not allowing any goals for the Russian team. The sledge hockey gold medal makes the Team USA sledge hockey team three-time Paralympic champions. Cross-country Team USA also claimed two silver medals and one bronze medal in the cross-country races during the Paralympics with Oksana Masters winning one silver and one bronze and Tatyana McFadden winning a silver medal. Both Masters and McFadden trained with the local National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park before making their way to Sochi. Downhill skiing On the downhill skiing side of the Paralympics, Team USA took home a total of 14 medals, chipping in to the total count of 18 medals. Local athletes claimed a number of those medals, including Danelle Umstead, a visually impaired skier who lives in Winter Park with her husband and guide Rob. Umstead took home the bronze medal in women's super combined. Alana Nichols, another local athlete, claimed the silver medal in women's downhill before falling during another competition and taking herself out of the running for more medals. Allison Jones, a Colorado native, finished in fourth place in the women's super combined standing event, behind Stephanie Jallen who took the bronze medal for the competition. Jallen also took the bronze medal in the women's Super-G standing event. Laurie Stephens added to Team USA's medal total by taking two bronze medals. One in the women's super combined sitting competition and one in the women's downhill sitting event. Allison Jones claimed a bronze medal in the women's downhill standing event and Mark Bathum brought home two silver medals for men's Super-G visually impaired and men's super combined visually impaired. Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Grand County Paralympians prepare for Sochi

With Team USA currently leading the medal count in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, excitement is beginning to stir for the upcoming Winter Paralympics, held in the same Russian city and using almost all of the same courses and terrain. The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), headquartered at Winter Park Resort, will be sending 35 athletes to the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, with a number traveling to Sochi from Grand County, where they live and train with the NSCD. The athletes also make up more than half of the entire U.S. Paralympics team. Some of the top prospects for the games, set to begin on March 7, will be representing the NSCD and have been training with local coaches in the Winter Park area to prepare for the games. Athletes from the NSCD have been nominated to compete on the alpine skiing team, Nordic and biathlon teams, and the first-ever Paralympic snowboard team for the upcoming games. Snowboarding The Sochi Paralympics will be the inaugural snowboarding competition for the Paralympics, with three of the U.S. athletes hailing from the Winter Park area. While the snowboarders won't compete in events like halfpipe and slopestyle, they will compete in boardercross races, where athletes battle to gain the top spot while zipping down a winding course riddled with jumps and tight turns. The bronze medal for the men's snowboard cross in Sochi was claimed by an American, Alex Deibold, and the men's snowboard cross team for USA's Paralympic team hopes to make it to the podium in the same event, like they recently did in a World Cup race on Jan. 25. Mike Shea, from Winter Park, is the top prospect for the men's Paralympic snowboard team with his other male teammates close behind him. "It's been a long road working toward this," Shea said. "For the level of sacrifice we have made, it feels good to have finally made the Sochi team." Last January, Team USA named Shea "athlete of the month," beating out snowboard celebrity Shaun White, after claiming three World Cup titles for the month. While Shea is feeling the pressure to perform after such a successful season, he said he feels good about his and his teammates' prospects. "It's good to have that success going into the games," Shea said. "It gives you a little bit of confidence." The NSCD will also be sending Keith Gabel and Matty Robinson to Sochi to compete on the men's snowboard team. On the women's side, snowboarder Heidi Jo Duce will be representing the NSCD. Duce is currently ranked in the No. 2 spot for women's boardercross, tied with another American athlete, Amy Purdy. Duce, an Ouray native who now calls Winter Park home while training, is relatively new to the world of competitive boardercross, though it hasn't stopped her from claiming a number of podium spots this winter. Alpine skiing While snowboarding will be making its debut at the Paralympic Winter Games, many of the athletes representing the NSCD have participated in previous Paralympic sports. One of the skiing veterans is Alana Nichols, a sit-skier. At the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, Nichols claimed two gold medals, one silver and one bronze to become the top medal winner for Team USA. Nichols, who also holds a gold medal for wheelchair basketball from the 2008 Paralympic games, is originally from Farmington, N.M., but has been training with the NSCD in Winter Park since 2008. After winning gold in giant slalom and downhill in 2010, Nichols became the first female athlete to win gold in both the summer and winter Paralympic Games. Nichols is competing this season at Sochi despite dislocating and tearing three ligaments in her shoulder in June 2013. But after a long summer of physical therapy, Nichols says she is back and feeling good. As evidence of her strong recovery, Nichols has cllaimed a number of podium spots this season, and is currently ranked as the third top prospect in super-g and the fourth top prospect in giant slalom. The women racers at the Paralympic Games will be using the same course the men are currently racing on at the Olympic Games. The course is made up of extremely steep and off-camber turns with some of the biggest jumps competitors have ever seen on a downhill course. Those jumps and turns are particularly difficult for mono-skiers, but Nichols says she enjoys the challenge of the harder course. Nichols already skied the course during a tour of the facility last February. "I honestly liked it," Nichols said. "There is definitely some harder jumps, but it's a fun challenge." Nichols said she's excited to travel to Sochi and is taking the time now to concentrate on the smaller things like nutrition. "I just want to get there, do what I can with what I have, and ski as fast as I can," she said. Four other American athletes who represent the NSCD will accompany Nichols on the women's alpine team as she tries to defend her medals. Allison Jones is one of the top prospects racing with Nichols and is ranked in the No. 2 spot for the slalom race as well as the fourth and eighth spots for giant slalom and super combined respectively. Team USA has high hopes for Dannelle Umstead, a visually impaired skier, and her husband and guide Rob Umstead, who reside in the Winter Park area, to do well in the games. She's ranked sixth in slalom and super combined. Lindsay Ball and Staci Mannella are two other NSCD athletes that competing for Team USA in Sochi, with Ball ranked seventh in giant slalom and Mannella ranked seventh in slalom. The NSCD will have nine men on the alpine ski team for the Sochi Paralympics, including Jasmin Bambur, a Granby resident, and Gerald Hayden, a Winter Park resident, who are both ranked well going into the games. Tyler Carter, Ralph Green, Joel Hunt, Ian Jansing, Stephen Lawler, Pat Parnell and Jamie Stanton make up the remaining men to represent the NSCD. Nordic and biathlon Dan Cnossen will be the top prospect for the American Nordic team going into his first Paralympic Games after a successful season on the World Cup circuit. Cnossen is on active duty with the U.S. Navy though calls Winter Park home. He is ranked sixth for cross-country skiing and 10th for biathlon. Sean Halsted and Andy Soule are the other two men on the Nordic team representing the NSCD. Halsted is another top prospect going into the games and the Nordic team's coach, Mark Birdseye, thinks it could be a shootout between Cnossen and Halsted for the podium spot. Halsted is ranked 13th in cross-country skiing and Soule is ranked ninth in biathlon. Beth Requist has called Winter Park home for years and will be one representative for the NSCD on the women's Nordic team with Oksana Masters and Tatyana McFadden also competing for the NSCD on the women's team. Masters is ranked 11th in cross-country and 13th in biathlon going into the Paralympics with McFadden close on her heels, holding the 14th spot on cross-country and 16th in biathlon. Reid Tulley can be reached 970-887-3334

Colorado nixes ’76 Olympics

For the first time, the Winter Olympics were held outside of Europe and North America when Sapporo, Japan won the Olympic bid.The city, located on the northernmost island of Japan, originally was awarded the 1940 Winter Olympics, but resigned after the 1937 invasion of China. Their competition for the 1972 Games was Banff, Canada, Lahti, Finland, and Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 1,000 athletes arrived from 35 nations, to compete in 35 events in six sports from Feb. 3 to Feb. 13, 1972.The downhill venue, Mount Eniwa, was created just for the Olympic competition. But after the Games, the mountain was returned to its pristine state in compliance with local conservation laws. It cost $2 million to construct and dismantle the two downhill runs, two cable cars and chairlift.As the popularity of skiing and ski equipment manufacturers grew, so did issues with commercialism. Three days prior to the opening ceremonies, Avery Brundage, the president of the International Olympic Committee, threatened to disqualify 40 alpine skiers who received endorsements and other deals. Austrian skier Karl Schranz, who allowed his name and photograph to be used in commercial advertising, was banned as an example.Canada refused to send an ice hockey team, protesting the fact that they were not allowed to send professional players, yet full-time ice hockey athletes from Russia and other Communist countries were permitted to compete. The Canadian ice hockey team had not been taking part in international competitions since 1969 due to this dispute.Prior to 1972, Japan had never won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. But it swept the 70-meter ski jumping event: Yukio Kasaya won gold, Akitsugu Konno went home with silver and Seiji Aochi was given bronze. Additionally, Spain got its first Winter Olympic gold medal when Francisco Fernandez Ochoa won the slalom. The U.S. placed fifth in the medal tally, accumulating eight medals: three gold, two silver and three bronze. Barbara Cochran won gold in the women’s slalom, while Susan Corrock was given bronze in the women’s downhill. The men’s ice hockey team earned a silver medal and Janet Lynn was awarded bronze in the ladies singles figure skate event. The rest of the medals were won in women’s speed skating events: Dianne Holum was given gold in the 1500-meter and silver in the 3000-meter races, while Anne Henning won gold in the 500-meter and bronze in the 1000-meter events.Hank Kashiwa, a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic Ski Team, began skiing at age 2 in New York. After coming up through the junior ranks, he attended the University of Colorado and skied for the Army for two years. As an amateur skier, he was on the U.S. National Team from 19667 to 1972, winning the 1969 U.S. National Championships and competing in the 1970 World Championships in Val Gardena.During the 1972 Olympics, Kashiwa placed 25th in the downhill and 21st in the giant slalom. He moved to Steamboat Springs in 1974 and, while on the pro circuit from 1972 to 1981, won the overall pro title in 1975 and was second in the 1976 “Super Stars” competition.Kashiwa was the president of Volant Ski Corporation, a Boulder-based manufacturer of the world’s only stainless steel, cap designed ski, which was designed by his brother, Bucky, at a lab in New Mexico. Kashiwa, active as a television commentator, announced for CBS at the 1992 and 1994 Winter Games. As the current host of “Skiing Magazine on TV,” he covers winter sports during seven, one-hour segments during the ski season. Kashiwa was inducted in the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1984. For the second time, the Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck, Austria, from Feb. 4 to Feb. 15, 1976. Thirty-seven nations arrived with 1,040 athletes, who competed in events in 10 sports, with a live audience of 1.5 million.Because these Games followed the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, where members of the Israeli Olympic Team were taken hostage and murdered by a militant group called Black September, security measures were tight.Although Innsbruck ultimately wound up hosting the 1976 Winter Games, they were originally awarded to Denver. But there were a few issues that arose:• The U.S. Environmental Protection Act was passed in 1969 and established measures that had to be met on public lands• Proposed Olympic venues kept changing: Mt. Sniktau did not meet the downhill standards, and negotiations began with Vail to develop Beaver Creek for events• A logistical nightmare arose for transportation because both Steamboat Springs and Beaver Creek were over 100 miles away• Funding became a crucial concern as costs rose dramatically.Due to all of these problems, the voters of Colorado turned down funding the Olympic Games in 1972, and Denver subsequently withdrew as a host city.Because Innsbruck merely modernized and upgraded its facilities, only $44 million was spent on these Games, $20 million of which was on publicity. TV technology and innovative design formats provided interviews, background landscape and expert commentary to fans.For the second consecutive Olympiad, Canada refused to send an ice hockey team, still protesting the fact that they couldn’t send professional athletes to compete. Ice dancing debuted as a sport, and technological advances in sportswear resulted in innovated perforated skis, sleek hooded suits, and streamlined helmets in alpine, speed skate, and ski jumping events.With 10 medals, the U.S. placed third in the medal tally. Most of the medals were won in speed skating. Sheila Young, who was the first U.S. woman to medal three times in one Olympiad, won gold in the women’s 500-meter, silver in the 1500-meter and bronze in the 1000-meter events.Peter Mueller was given gold in the men’s 1000-meter race, Leah Poulos-Mueller earned silver in the 1000-meter, and Dan Immerfall won bronze in the men’s 500-meter event. Dorothy Harnill won gold in the ladies singles figure skating and James Millns and Colleen O’Connor were awarded bronze in the pairs ice dancing event. In the ski events, Cindy Nelson won bronze in the women’s downhill, and Bill Koch stunned the world when he won silver in the 30-kilometer cross-country event, becoming the first and only American to win a cross-country medal at the Olympics. This monumental achievement triggered a cross-country ski boom in the U.S.Cindy Nelson, whose father was a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division troops that trained at Camp Hale, began skiing at age 2. She joined the U.S. Ski Team when she was just 15 years old, made four Olympic teams and competed at four World Championships.In 1974, Nelson broke the great Annemarie Moser-Proell’s winning streak to become the first U.S. racer to win a World Cup downhill. She thrilled fans by claiming the bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics and the silver medal in the combined at 1980 World Championship in Lake Placid.Nelson earned several World Cup titles plus the title of National Champion seven times. Nelson competed in all five of the Alpine disciplines. As the first American to win a World Cup downhill, a World Cup super-G and the first woman to hold the position of chief of course for a major alpine competition, Nelson is widely regarded as one of America’s top combined skiers.In 1979, she moved to Vail and in 1985, she retired from international competition. For seven years, she worked as the director of skiing for Vail Associates. She currently maintains an interest in other sports and nonprofit organizations, and is a board member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Foundation and the Steadman-Hawkins Sports Medicine Foundation. Still a resident of Vail, Cindy was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2002.

Winter Park hires new snowboarding coach

Adaptive snowboarding took a leap with the International Paralympic Committee announcing on May 1 that Snowboard Cross would be added to the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. For the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, the news is huge and the timing is right. The National Sports Center for the Disabled recently acquired a new developmental snowboarding coach, Michael Shea, 29, who boasts a very impressive record. With two silver medals from Winter X Games 15 and 16; a silver at the Disabled World Cup; a bronze at the Para-Snowboard World Championships; silver and gold medals from the Wells Fargo Cup, held in Winter Park; and a world ranking of second, according to overall points, from the World Snowboard Federation, Shea takes the position of coach with quite an extensive resume and a long history of competition success. Shea will train full time at both the NSCD program at Winter Park and at Adaptive Action Sports, located at Copper Mountain, while he coaches new and intermediate adaptive snowboard athletes. Shea will also compete in hopes of attaining a spot on the US Paralympic Snowboard Team. As a coach, Shea plans to reinforce athletes’ positive attitudes as well as their skills while giving back to the disabled snowboarding community and NSCD participants. “Positive competitive attitude comes first and foremost and then skills,” Shea said. Shea also plans to seek out new members to add to the team. “I know there are more athletes out there who can help the team,” he said. “I hope to find new riders in Colorado that are willing to compete on the World Cup circuit and to progress them as riders.” With the first snows coming to the area in the past week, Shea along with the rest of the area’s winter sports enthusiasts, are looking forward to a good season with hopes for some serious storms. And they’ll happily welcome the decision to add snowboarding to the Paralympic Games, which came as a surprise to many who compete in the sport because the Russian Organizing Committee had announced in the summer of 2011 that snowboarding would not be included in the 2014 winter games.

Pain and gain for Paralympians in Sochi

The 2014 Paralympic games in Sochi, Russia, are in full swing with some of the athletes competing out of Winter Park are already winning medals to add to the overall medal count for Team USA. As of Thursday, March 13, Team USA holds the 13 spot in the medal count with four silver medals and four bronze medals, with some promising athletes on deck to compete to add to that count in the coming days. Conditions on the courses in Russia have been variable with warm, spring-like conditions for the beginning of the games and new snow falling overnight on Tuesday. Team USA has made a strong showing so far in the alpine skiing results, claiming two silver medals and five bronze medals in the events, though have also suffered some disappointments with favored athletes just missing podium spots. Alpine skiing Laurie Stephens of Massachusetts is leading in the medal count for Team USA. She continued a medal streak on Wednesday by sweeping the bronze medal podium spot in the women's alpine sitting class, claiming bronze for Super-G, slalom, and downhill. The medals add to her career medal count of five, making her a seven-time medalist in the Paralympic games. "I'm just trying to focus on my skiing," Stephens said in a press release. "For me in slalom, I had two really good runs and am pretty excited about that. Every day is different and all of the conditions are different, you never know what is going to happen." Danelle Umstead, a visually impaired alpine skier, and her guide and husband Rob, both of Winter Park, fell just shy of the podium for the women's visually impaired slalom race that was held Wednesday. The duo fought hard from holding fifth place during their first run to move up one spot to the fourth position during their second run, falling shy of a bonze medal by 3.32 seconds. "I am always moving on, I don't ever hold back," said Danelle Umstead in a press release. "We did that in Vancouver (2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games) and it worked well for me. Never looking back, just doing the best you can each run and then moving forward. But we are also looking forward to the rest of the day tomorrow." Alana Nichols, a sit skier who trains with the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park and calls the area home, fell during her last run during the women's Super-G race and had to be airlifted from the course to a local hospital. "Hey friends, sorry it's taken me a while to update…I am just fine. I was knocked unconscious and had to have stitches in my chin but feel incredibly blessed to have left the mountain today in the shape I am in," Nichols said in a post to her Facebook account. "My teammate Stephani Victor-Kuonen is in the room next to me and she is also going to be OK. She's got a pretty banged up face… Praying for a quick recovery for both of us. Thank you all for the love, prayers and all of the support… It means more than you know." Before Nichols's fall on Monday, she had already earned a silver medal for women's downhill on Saturday, claiming the only silver medal in alpine skiing for Team USA's women. Jasmin Bambur, a sit-skier and Granby local who races out of Winter Park, hasn't been able to clench a podium spot yet, missing a gate mid-course during the men's downhill race on Saturday and taking the seventh spot in the Super-G race on Sunday. Bambur's teammate, Heath Calhoun, missed a bronze medal during the Super-G race on Sunday by a little more than five seconds, claiming the fourth spot. Mark Bathum of Team USA claimed the only other silver medal for men's alpine skiing so far, with a second spot in the men's Super-G visually impaired class on Sunday after missing a bronze medal by less than eight-tenths of a second during the men's downhill race on Saturday. "We were hoping for more success quite frankly," Bathum said in a press release regarding the downhill race on Saturday. "It's a fantastic course. I mean it runs down where the men's Olympic downhill ran so it's the toughest course we've been on probably since the last Paralympics, and so it was a great track, really challenging hill, lots of bounces and terrain in it, and it was a good challenge for us." Stephanie Jallen of Team USA added to the country's medal count by taking the bronze medal in the women's standing Super-G on Monday. Allison Jones, of Colorado Springs, claimed a bronze medal in downhill during the first day of competition, marking her first downhill medal and eighth Paralympic medal. Alpine skiing competition resumed on Thursday with men and women's Super-G finals. Also wrapping up Thursday was the men's biathlon competition. Biathlon and Cross Country Two women who train with the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park claimed the only two medals Team USA currently holds for cross-country skiing events. Tatyana McFadden claimed the silver medal in the women's 1 kilometer sitting cross-country sprint race on Wednesday, finishing only one-tenth of a second behind the gold medal finisher with other competitors close on her tail. "I could not go easy, I needed to go hard from the start," McFadden is quoted as saying in a press release. "I knew they were coming and I could feel them down my neck. It was a good race." McFadden is competing in her first ever Paralympic Winter Games and started cross-country skiing only one year ago, though she holds 10 Paralympic medals in track and field. "I can't even believe it. My main goal was just to come in and make it to the final," McFadden said. "I am just so happy and so proud." Oksana Masters, another Winter Paralympic rookie who also trains with the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, claimed the first medal in cross-country skiing for Team USA after coming in second just behind the gold medal winner for the women's 12 kilometer race. Masters is also new to the sport of cross-country, having only skied for a year before the games, though is another accomplished athlete in the summer Paralympic games, having won a bronze medal for rowing in 2012. "It's pretty amazing, I am in disbelief," Masters is quoted as saying in a press release. "I have been rowing for 10 years and only skiing for less than a year. I really have to thank my training from rowing because it prepared me well for skiing; I'm so happy right now." Also working hard in the women's cross-country events is Beth Requist, a Winter Park local, who took the 16th spot in Sunday's race and 19th spot during Wednesday's sprint race. On the men's side of cross-country, athletes that race out of Winter Park have yet to claim a podium spot but two of the three men in the games that train with the National Sports Center for the Disabled took the fifth and sixth spots in the 1 kilometer sprint race on Wednesday. Andrew Soule and Dan Cnossen took fifth and sixth respectively. Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Let the Winter Games begin

VAIL, Colorado – As many people may know, the Olympics originally began in 776 B.C. as a tribute to the Greek gods.Thousands of people would make the journey every four years to Olympia in order to cheer, watch, and participate in the Games. However, Emperor Theodosius abolished all pagan festivities, including the Olympic Games, in 393 A.D. due to the growing Roman influence in Greece. After this ruling, the Games were not held again until the late 19th century.In 1894, French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin helped found the International Olympic Committee, whose became responsible for reviving the Olympic Games. Two years later, the first modern Olympic Games were organized in Athens, Greece, and then in 1924, the first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France.At the time, the Winter Olympics were unofficial and referred to as “International Sports Week” due to protests from the Scandinavian countries that Winter Games would interfere with the Nordic Games. In spite of this, they achieved Olympic status in 1926.1924 Winter OlympicsThe first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France, lasting from Jan. 25 to Feb. 5, 1924. Sixteen nations participated – Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, the U.S., and Yugoslavia.Just over 10,000 paying spectators came to southeastern France to witness the Winter Olympics, which held 16 events in seven sports. While there were 258 athletes who competed in the 1924 Winter Olympics, merely 11 of these athletes were women. The members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team participated in the three Olympic ski events: cross-country, Nordic combined and ski jumping.Anders Haugen, a native of Telemark, Norway, immigrated to the United States in 1908 and settled in Dillon. Before becoming captain of the 1924 U.S. Olympic Ski Team, Haugen won many ski jumping honors, including two U.S. amateur titles, in addition to setting successive world ski jumping records at the Dillon ski jump with a measure of 213 feet in 1919 and 214 feet in 1920.While competing in Chamonix in 1924, Haugen was originally recorded as finishing fourth in the men’s individual ski jumping competition. In 1974, an error was discovered in Thorleif Haug’s score, which caused the two athletes to switch places, and Haugen was awarded the bronze medal for the 1924 Winter Olympic Games. He is the only American to ever win an Olympic medal in ski jumping, and was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1978.The U.S. finished fifth in the medal count for the 1924 Winter Olympics, with a total of four medals (one gold, two silver and one bronze). The gold medal for the U.S. was won during the opening event, by Charles Jewtraw, in the 5,000 meter speed skating competition. The U.S. men’s ice hockey team received a silver medal, and Beatrix Loughran won a silver medal for her performance in the ladies single’s figure skating.1928 Winter OlympicsSt. Moritz, Switzerland was the location chosen for the second Winter Olympics, which took place from Feb. 11 to Feb. 19, 1928. This was the first time the Winter Games were assembled in a different nation than the Summer Games of the same year.Fourteen events were held in six sports, and 464 athletes participated (26 women and 438 men). A new competition was introduced, the skeleton event, which is considered the world’s first sliding sport, and consequently St. Moritz is referred to as the birthplace of skeleton.Argentina, Estonia, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Romania were the new nations competing in 1928.Norway, Sweden, and Finland dominated all of the skiing events: 18-kilometer cross-country, 50-kilometer cross-country, ski jumping and Nordic combined. The U.S. placed second in the medal tally, with a total of six medals (two gold, two silver and two bronze). The men’s five-man bobsled team won the gold and the silver. Both Jennison Heaton (who was also part of the five-man bobsled team) and John Heaton earned a gold and silver medal in the men’s individual skeleton event, respectively.Beatrix Loughran won a bronze medal for the ladies single’s figure skating and John Farrell won a bronze in the men’s 500-meter speed skating competition.1932 Winter OlympicsThe Winter Olympics were hosted in the United States for the first time at Lake Placid, N.Y., from Feb. 4 to Feb. 13, 1932. The 1932 Winter Olympics was the first and only time the American group race method was used in speed skating, with mass starts and athletes racing against all other competitors, instead of European-style heats.Argentina, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia chose not to compete, but 252 athletes (21 women and 231 men) arrived from 17 nations to participate in 14 events and four sports.Skiing competitions at these Winter Olympic Games were still limited to 18- and 50-kilometer cross-country, Nordic combined and ski jumping. However, with over 250 miles of trails, Lake Placid offered the cross-country skier a series of trails that were unrivaled on this side of the Atlantic. They traversed mountain and valley, forest and ice-covered lake, and granted the skier every possible test of speed and endurance. Again, Norway, Sweden and Finland swept all medals for skiing events.U.S. bobsledding medalist Eddie Eagan, who was from Denver, became the first person to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics – and is still the only person to win gold at both Games. In 1920 at Antwerp, Belgium, he won the boxing competition, and in 1932 at Lake Placid, he was part of the victorious four-man bobsled team.The U.S. won the medal tally, with a grand total of 12 medals (six gold, four silver and two bronze). It was the only time the U.S. won the most medals at the Winter Olympics.

Winter Park skiers excel at US Junior Nationals in Steamboat

Birk Irving, a 12-year-old skier won the J4 United States Skiing Association (USSA) Junior National Championship in both halfpipe and slopestyle on March 8. Bruce Perry Jr. was crowned the J2 National Mogul Champion and won the gold medal. He also won the Bronze medal by taking 3rd overall in Dual Moguls. At 16, Perry Jr. is the youngest athlete to reach the podium in the mens event both days. Nik Seemann finished in first place for his age class J3 (ages 13-14 year olds) and was 5th overall, out of 75 jumpers. Nik is coached by his dad, Chris Seemann, who also coaches the US Ski Team and at Winter Park Comp Center. Irving began skiing at the age of 2 through encouragement of his family, especially his father who is a current Ski Patroller for Winter Park Resort. He began competing in rail jams at Winter Park Resort when he was 7 years old. He then moved on to competing in USASA competitions that same year. Irving also has been the United States of America Snowboarding Association (USASA) halfpipe winner for the last two years (2010, 2011) and was the USASA slopestyle winner in 2011. He is currently ranked number one in the nation for his age group (10-12), in halfpipe and slopestyle. Birk plans to compete in USASA Nationals in April at Copper Mountain, Colorado. He will spend much of his summer training at Mt. Hood, Oregon. His 10 year old sister, Svea, also competes and is a USASA National Champion in halfpipe and slopestyle and will follow her brother to Copper to defend her title. She is also currently ranked 1st in the nation by USASA for pipe and slope for 10 and under. Adam Freeman, Alpine, and Tyler Schuessler, freestyle, are freshman at Middle Park High School and play soccer for the high school team. Freeman finished 6th and Schuessler finished 15th at Nationals. Casey Andringa won the Bronze in the J2 Mens Moguls. Other local skiers who placed: 13th, Zach Strande; 15th, Zane Larson; 16th, Conner Lambden; 19th, Billy Reeves; 25th, Justin Bondi. Kendall Marshall ignited the crowd with a great finals run to put her on the podium twice by taking home the Silver medal in J2 girls and a Bronze medal for a 3rd overall. Lauren Burg, 5th overall; Kelly Lawson, 16th overall; Morgan Harty, 20th overall. As of press time, these were the only results submitted from the event. We welcome other results.

Tirebiters race results

A ski race that has been around for about 45 years, the annual Tirebiter’s St. Paddy’s Day Ski/Snowboard Race, took place again this year with more than 80 racers, raising more than $1,000 for the East Grand Middle School and Middle Park High School alpine teams. Gold, silver and bronze medals were given to the top finishers. A trophy goes to the fastest man and woman overall in this 21-years and older competition. Women Inner Tube Nippers – ages 21-29Gold – Jacqueline ThomasSilver – Julie WhiteWomen Racing Slicks – ages 30-39Gold – Jessie SchultzSilver – Kelly GlancyBronze – Tracey ChambersWomen Radials – ages 40-49Gold – Jodi GrieschSilver – Joanie WojickBronze – Carol Ann ThompsonWomen Mud & Snows – ages 50-59Gold – April HiltonSilver – Laura HinseyBronze – Jil CampbellWomen No Treads – ages 60-69Gold – Audrey SchultzSilver – Pamela DexterBronze – Sandy GeiserWomen Recaps – ages 70+Gold – Ann OxleyMen Inner Tube Nippers – ages 21-29Gold – Kelsey YoungSilver – Jon WulffBronze – Jarrel PriceMen Racing Slicks – ages 30-39Gold – Devin WhiteSilver – Eric GaierBronze – Chris PessanoMen Radials – ages 40-49Gold – Kelly GrieschSilver – Andy KosaBronze – Dave LawnMen Mud & Snows – ages 50-59Gold – John (Amo) AmundsonSilver – Reed AndersonBronze – Jim (JT) ThompsonMen No Treads – ages 60-69Gold – Buck DuncanSilver – John HiattBronze – Judson DexterMen Recaps – ages 70+Gold – Cooper BlackSilver – David HubingerBronze – Don Sawyer

NSCD athletes dominate Paralympic Games

National Sports Center for the Disabled athlete Alana Nichols, 27, burst into tears after winning her first gold at the Paralympic Games in Vancouver. For her, it was more than just a medal. She was skiing for her two-years-older brother, D.J., who had died unexpectedly last June. “I basically was skiing for him,” Nichols said. “I felt his presence that day. It was an amazing moment to have actually accomplished what I wanted and have my brother there with me.” Her first of a total of four Vancouver medals was earned during a rainy day on the giant slalom course. Having never skied in rain before, the sit skier found slushy snow to be an advantage and finished 1.5 seconds ahead of everyone else after the first run. A consistent second run put her on top for the gold. “I burst into tears the second I saw my time. It meant a lot to me. A culmination of emotions were coming together,” she said. Nichols broke her back in a snowboarding accident at the age of 17. Having always been active, two years later she began playing wheelchair basketball at the University of Arizona, which led to joining the U.S. Paralympics Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team in 2005. Basketball sports scholarships provided the means to put her through school in Arizona and Alabama, where she earned a master’s degree in kinesiology. Although she has been an adaptive skier since 2002, she didn’t join NSCD until after a 2008 gold-medal win competing on the Paralympic women’s basketball team. After just two years of ski-race training under NSCD, Nichols picked up four medals during the Vancouver Games, the most of any U.S. adaptive skiing athlete. She earned gold in both the downhill and giant slalom, a bronze in the super combined event and a silver in the super-G, just 2.79 seconds behind gold medalist Claudia Loesch of Austria. “I skied really well and consistently throughout the games and couldn’t have asked for more,” she said. NSCD Nation If NSCD were a nation competing in the Games, it would have been a country tough to beat. NSCD athletes earned more than half of the alpine medals garnered by Team USA. Visually Impaired U.S. sker Danelle Umstead with her guide and husband Rob Umstead brought home two bronze medals, one in the downhill and one in the super combined event. The NSCD athletes maintained their competitive reputation on the world skiing stage, with third place finishes in World Cup races in 2009 and 2010. Back home on Tuesday, Umstead said they were “overwhelmed, excited and happy.” “We’ve been working and training really hard the last two seasons. It’s exhilarating to know that the hard work pays off,” she said. Another NSCD trained skier Adam Hall garnered a gold medal in the standing division of the Paralympics slalom competition. Hall, who has been involved with NSCD for five years, skied for his native New Zealand. His gold “was a dream come true for him,” said NSCD alpine coach Erik Petersen, “and also for me.” The NSCD has become a development hub for athletes from many national federations. “People come from all over the world to train with us,” Petersen said. “People don’t realize the class of athlete we have right in our backyard.” Alpine athletes at the Vancouver Games were not only challenged by the competition, Petersen said, but the weather. Rain, snow and fog were distractions for the better part of the alpine week, causing schedule changes that delayed the downhill events and moved the slalom competition to the front. “It was difficult on the athletes,” Petersen said, citing long waits for fog to clear before starts, and athletes having only one training day seven days prior to their downhill competition. But “it was the same for everybody,” the NSCD coach continued. “Variables in ski racing you can’t control, and weather is one of them. But you can control your attitudes towards it.” That was sound advice for Umstead and Nichols, who competed on one of the worst weather days of the games during the giant slalom races. For visually impaired skier Umstead, the weather impacted her run, unlike Nichols. The rain on her goggles during the March 16 race clouded what little vision she has left. She and her guide-husband placed eighth. Despite the adverse weather conditions, Peterson considered the Vancouver courses fair due to “tremendous snow preparation.” And when the weather looked as though it could wear on some athletes down in later races, Petersen said he reminded them: “Your good attitude will pay huge dividends.” For those few, it truly did. – Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

Stolen Valor: The Mickey Mouse Medal

There is a scene in the 2010 novel The Berlin Conspiracy by William Penn that deals with how to recognize and compensate military personnel who sit in air-conditioned trailers or buildings on U.S. soil as they, with just the click of a computer mouse, employ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (AKA drones) to kill terrorists on foreign soil. What was a fictional problem back in 2010 became a troublesome reality on Feb. 13 when the Obama administration announced the Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) to recognize the men and women who kill suspected enemy combatants by using armed drones controlled from the United States. Under certain circumstances, the DWM can even be awarded to individuals for fending off a cyber-warfare attack. Doubtless, service members who kill the enemy or even ward off cyber attacks merit our nation’s thanks for their services and even merit a decoration to wear on their uniforms. But just where do you place the DWM in the Order of Preference, within the already existing awards for valor when valor is defined as actually risking your life and limb on or over a foreign field of battle? Sitting state-side in an air-conditioned van does not put the operator of a computer mouse at risk of life and limb. And there is no “risk” of earning the Purple Heart which is awarded to those who have actually shed their blood on the battlefield in defense of the nation. Now, let’s review the medals awarded for “valor” on the battlefield. The top is the Medal of Honor. Next, come the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross — all equal in rank. They are followed by the Silver Star. Next is the Distinguished Flying Cross. Then comes the Bronze Star for Valor followed by the Purple Heart. So, guess where the Obama Administration placed the new DWM within the Order of Precedence? Right above the Bronze Star and above the Purple Heart. For the record, there are two kinds of Bronze Stars: The Bronze Star with “V” for valor is awarded for being on the ground in a combat zone and performing an act of valor on the field of battle. The other Bronze Star is for meritorious service while being on the ground in an active combat zone. By placing this new DWM above the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, the Obama administration has effectively downgraded the service and sacrifices of those who have earned the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Maybe not a big deal to the 91 percent of Americans with zero military service. Maybe it’s not a big deal in Congress where only 118 members are veterans. But it is degrading to those who have earned their awards on the field of valor. And, even if the awardees are dead, their heirs must feel the valorous achievements of their loved ones have now been diminished. Congress can fix this injustice by passing a law that places the DWM below the Bronze Star and below the Purple Heart. Meanwhile, GIs are likely to call the DWM the “Mickey Mouse Medal” because, instead of a firearm, it involves a computer mouse. Or, if they feel charitable, the “Mighty Mouse Medal.” Given the misplaced ranking of the DWM in the Order of Preference, it is hard to imagine that anyone would want to wear it. Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.