U.S. Paralympic Team Includes 8 Army Veterans
By Gary Sheftick
Army News Service
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2014 An active-duty soldier and seven Army veterans are competing this week in the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Rico Roman of Team USA pushes off two Italian sled hockey defenders in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, March 8, 2014. The U.S. team prevailed, 5-1. Photo courtesy of Sochi 2014
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Staff Sgt. Jen Lee of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program is backup goalie for the USA sled hockey team that beat Italy, 5-1, and South Korea, 3-0, over the weekend and faces Russia today.
Army veterans on Team USA include:
-- Retired Staff Sgt. Rico Roman, of Portland, Ore., who also is on the USA sled hockey team;
-- Retired Staff Sgt. Heath Calhoun of Clarksville, Tenn., who is competing in alpine skiing;
-- Former Spc. Joel Hunt, of Kokomo, Ind., scheduled to compete in the men's standing giant slalom March 15;
-- Retired Staff Sgt. Bryan Price of Belton, Mo., competing in Nordic or cross-country skiing;
-- Former Spc. Andy Soule of San Antonio, competing in biathlon and cross-country skiing;
-- Former Sgt. Jeremy Wagner of Nanakuli, Hawaii, who is competing in biathlon events;
-- Former Pfc. Patrick McDonald of Madison, Wis., who is competing in wheelchair curling, in which Team USA lost 6-4 to Slovakia and 9-5 to South Korea on March 8. On March 9, they beat Norway, 8-5. Yesterday, Team USA lost 7-2 to Canada and 6-5 to Russia.
Calhoun finished fourth in the Super-G-sitting skiing event March 9 with a time of 1 minute, 24.65 seconds, behind Japan's Akira Kano, who took gold with a time of 1:19.51. Japanese teammate Taiki Morii took silver with a time of 1:21.60, and Canada's Caleb Brousseau took bronze with 1:22.05. Calhoun will compete in the combined Super-G today.
Soule finished fourth March 8 in the 7.5-km sitting biathlon competition with a time of 21:48.5. Russia's Roman Petushkov took the gold with a time of 21:03.7. Ukraine's Maksym Yarovy took the silver, and Japan's Kozo Kubo won the bronze. Soule and the other top three finishers never missed a target, finishing with a perfect shooting score.
Soule finished fifth in the 15-km cross-country skiing event March 9 with a time of 42:53.8. Russia's Petushkov took the gold with a time of 40:51.6. Russia's Irek Zaripov won the silver, and Russia's Aleksandr Davidovich took the bronze.
Soule is scheduled to compete in the men's 12.5-km biathlon event today, as is Wagner, who finished 18th in the 7.5-km sitting biathlon competition March 8 with a time of 26:16.1.
On March 9, Price finished 19th in the men's 15-km sitting cross-country event with a time of 53:56.6. He is scheduled to ski the 1-km sprint tomorrow, the 4x2.5-km open relay March 15, and the men's 10-km on March 16.
The U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command congratulated all members of the 2014 U.S. Paralympic team last week and offered special encouragement to the eight Army athletes.
"The Warrior Transition Command encourages every wounded, ill and injured soldier to have a sport to call their own," said Army Lt. Col. Keith L. Williams, head of the Warrior Transition Command's adaptive reconditioning program. "When soldiers face injury or illness, they can still participate in sports and other physical activities. These activities significantly enhance their physical and emotional recovery … . The soldiers and Army veterans on this year's Paralympic team represent the enduring strength and resilience of the Army."
(A Warrior Transition Command news release contributed to this article.)