U.S. Army veteran Heath Calhoun, a Sochi 2014 hopeful in alpine skiing, was the U.S. flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
Just two weeks after Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games, the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place March 7-16 in Sochi, Russia. The Paralympic Winter Games will feature seven disciplines of five sports, as recognized by the International Paralympic Committee, for a total of 72 medal events, including men's and women's standing snowboard cross, which will make its debut in Sochi as a part of the alpine skiing program.
The United States will compete in each of the five sports (alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling) contested in Sochi with an estimated team of 77 athletes. The International Paralympic Committee allocated the U.S. 28 slots for alpine skiing, excluding snowboarding, which has five male slots and five female slots, and 17 slots for biathlon and cross-country skiing. Sled hockey teams are 17 athletes (18 if mixed gender) and wheelchair curling teams are five athletes.
While the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team was nominated in July, with the roster set to be reduced by one in January, and the wheelchair curling squad will be named in December, the rosters for other sports will not be revealed until closer to the Games. Nordic skiing will be named Jan. 31, 2014, and the roster for alpine skiing will be named Feb. 17. The entire 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team, as approved by the United States Olympic Committee, will be named no later than Feb. 21, the deadline to submit delegation rosters to the IPC.
The U.S. sent 50 athletes to the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, winning four gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals, finishing fifth overall in the medal count. In 2010, Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), a U.S. Army veteran, won a bronze medal in the men’s sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit biathlon event, becoming the first U.S. biathlete to medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games.
Of the 50 athletes who competed in Vancouver, five were military athletes: alpine skier Heath Calhoun (Clarksville, Tenn.), ret., U.S. Army; Nordic skier Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash./Twin Lakes, Idaho), ret., U.S. Air Force; wheelchair curler Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.), ret. U.S. Army; Soule; and alpine skier Chris Devlin-Young (Campton, N.H.), ret., U.S. Coast Guard. All five athletes are Sochi hopefuls.
Calhoun, who was injured in Iraq, was the U.S. flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony.
NBC and NBCSN will combine to air 50 hours of television coverage for the Games starting on March 7 with the Opening Ceremony. It will be followed by daily coverage of all five Paralympic sports in the Sochi program, before the Games’ Closing Ceremony is broadcast on March 16. In addition to the unprecedented U.S. television coverage, the USOC will provide live online coverage of every event at TeamUSA.org.