Paralympic Alpine Skiing Preview
After a 10-medal showing at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Skiing Team returns with a strong contingent heading into the home stretch before PyeongChang 2018. Eleven members of the U.S. national team competed in Sochi, including four out of seven medalists led by two silver medals won by Mark Bathum and guide Cade Yamamoto. In PyeongChang, Paralympic alpine competition consists of 30 medal events for men and women including three speed disciplines and two technical disciplines. MORE
Andrew Kurka
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Hometown: Palmer, Alaska
Paralympic Experience: 2014
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A six-time high school state champion in Alaska, Andrew Kurka originally dreamed of becoming an Olympic wrestler until an ATV accident paralyzed him from the waist down at the age of 13. Two years after the accident, he tried the monoski and immediately fell in love with speed. Since making the U.S. national team in 2010, his journey hasn't been without obstacles. Kurka has broken his back twice while competing, including during a training run at Sochi 2014 that sent him home before he could compete for a medal at his first Paralympic Winter Games. Eight months later, he broke his femur that took him off the snow for nearly a year. Since then, Kurka has looked strong and consistent on the hill. In February, he won three world championship medals in the men's sitting class including his first world title in downhill at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships. He carried that momentum through the end of the season, capturing the downhill and super-G crystal globes to put a stamp on the most successful year of his career. With PyeongChang 2018 in his sights, Kurka has no plans to slow down.
About Andrew
Hidden talent: My voice seems to be my most popular talent that's overlooked.

Something quirky: I don't eat bacon, and I once did a body building show.

Best advice received: That it happens to us all for a reason, and it's up to us to decide whether that reason is good or not.
Danelle Umstead
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Hometown: Taos, New Mexico
Paralympic Experience: 2010 (2 bronze), 2014 (1 bronze)
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A veteran skier in the women's visually impaired class, Danelle Umstead has represented Team USA at the last two Paralympic Winter Games. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and early onset macular degeneration, Umstead has no central vision and is losing her peripheral vision. She competes with her husband Rob who serves as a guide, skiing in front of Umstead and giving her verbal directions to steer the slopes. Shortly after winning double bronze at Vancouver 2010, she discovered that she also had multiple sclerosis. Despite having the odds stacked against her, Umstead went on to win her third medal at the Sochi Games, taking bronze in the super combined. The 45-year-old has continued to show that she's the one to beat, capturing her first world championship medals in 2015 with two silver and a bronze followed by another bronze-medal performance at the most recent World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in 2017.
About Danelle
Hidden talent: I'm a good cook. I can paint interior, texturing drywall.

Something quirky: I mix up common sayings (not on purpose). For instance, "wasn't my best rodeo," or "that's a whole another ballpark."

Earliest memory of sport: I grew up not knowing about winter sports. I would watch the Olympics growing up, knowing I would never be an Olympian because of my visual disability. Don't get me wrong, I still was a dreamer. I did not learn about the Paralympics until 2006. When I was introduced to skiing, I knew right away this was what I loved.
Rob Umstead
Hometown: Taos, New Mexico
Paralympic Experience: 2010 (2 bronze), 2014 (1 bronze)
Full Bio
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Rob Umstead not only plays the role of husband, but full-time guide for visually impaired Paralympian Danelle Umstead. The two teamed up after Danelle was having trouble finding a guide when they moved from New Mexico to Utah. Since then, he has guided her to three medals at the Paralympic Winter Games, including two bronze medals in downhill and super combined at the Vancouver Games in 2010 and another bronze in super combined at the Sochi Games in 2014. Umstead himself has been involved in ski racing for more than 23 years and competed at the University of Massachusetts. After college he was a race coach in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Oregon. Most recently, he and Danelle won bronze at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships and will together seek their first gold medal in PyeongChang . The Umsteads have a 10-year-old son Brocton, guide dog Aziza and retired guide dog Betty Lynn.
About Rob
Hobbies: I enjoy spending time with my family, camping, paddle surfing and kite boarding.

Best advice received: Never give up, work hard for what you want—no matter what life throws at you. Hard work leads to success.

Earliest Paralympic memory: After fighting our way for a spot the national team in 2010, I remember standing on the podium to accept the bronze medal at the Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games. It was an amazing feeling.
Thomas Walsh
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Hometown: Vail, Colorado
2018 Paralympic hopeful
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PyeongChang Preview
In just his first three seasons, Thomas Walsh has already made his name known on the international scene, garnering nine world cup podium appearances and finishing the 2016-17 season as No.3 in giant slalom for the men's standing class. Walsh began skiing at the age of two and by five, he was already ski racing with friend and fellow Team USA star Mikaela Shiffrin's mother as his coach. The Colorado native was considered a rising star on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and the International Ski Federation junior circuits as a teenager before he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. After 14 months of chemotherapy and surgeries that left him with hip and leg impairments, Walsh was declared cancer-free. He set his sights back on skiing after supporting Shiffrin at the Sochi Games and realizing his aspirations to re-launch his own career. In 2015, Walsh was invited to be a part of the U.S. national team and within his first year, he won his first slalom and giant slalom world cup races. It hasn't taken long for the 22-year-old to establish himself as a medal-contender in PyeongChang and has high hopes for representing Team USA in 2018.
About Thomas
Something quirky: For my goals, I like to make sticky notes for the following day and place them on my mirror. I also like to make goals on a run-by-run basis to help me stay on track to achieve my daily goal.

Hobbies: I enjoy acting, writing and spending time in nature.

Favorite Team USA memory: I traveled to the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to see long-time friend Mikaela Shiffrin.
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