Blind Bargains

Meet the Visually Impaired Athletes of the 2014 Winter Paralympics

The 2014 Winter Paralympics started Friday in Sochi, Russia. Over the next 8 days, athletes will be competing in five different sports. This year’s U.S. team includes six visually impaired athletes, competing in alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, and the Biathlon. Let's take a moment to learn about the athletes representing the United States.

Athletes are classified by their visual accuity ranging from B1, meaning no usable vision, to B3, which many would consider legal blindness.

Alpine Skiing:

This year’s alpine skiing team includes: Lindsay Ball, Staci Mannella, Danelle Umstead, and Mark Bathum.

Ball had her first victory at the National championships in 2010 where she won the Giant Slalom. Two years later, she would win that title again and the gold for Downhill skiing. She has been on the U.S.Paralympic team since 2012, and the games at Socci will be her first competition since tearing her ACL last year. She competes in the B1 category with her guide Diane Barras.

Mannella is one of the youngest members of the U.S. team. In 2011, she won the junior downhill and slalom at the National Championships. One year later, she would win the Super G and the Slalom at the same event. She competes in the B3 category with her guide Kim Seevers.

Umstead has been winning skiing championships since 2009. In the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, she took home bronze for Downhill skiing and the Super combined. She is currently ranked number 1 in the world for Slalom and speed. She competes in the B2 category with her guide Rob Umstead who is also her husband.

Bathum is the oldest member of the U.S. team at 55. In 2010, he took home silver in the downhill at the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver. This year he took home the gold for the downhill at the National Championships and World Cup. He competes in the B2 category with his guide Cade Yamamoto.

Nordic Skiing/Biathlon:

This year’s Nordic Skiing and Biathlon team includes: Jake Adicoff and Kevin Burton.

Adicoff has been cross country skiing since he was in the second grade. In 2011 and 2012 he competed in the able-bodied Junior National Championships. In 2013, he decided to focus on joining the U.S. Paralympic team. He competes in the B3 category with his guide Reid Pletcher.

Burton was in his 9th year in the Navy when he learned he was losing his sight. After adjusting to his vision loss, he decided to get back on his skis in 2012. In 2013, he took home 2 gold medals at the National Championships, and this year he earned four gold medals at the same event. He competes in the B2 category with his guide David Chamberlain.

NBC is airing selected events from the Paralympic games. You can also watch them live on the Team USA website. Good luck to all of the athletes.

Source: Go to source
Category: Miscellaneous

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For the past three years Alena has been a feature writer for the online magazine Matilda Ziegler. She has also been a contractor for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, helping blind adults learn to use adaptive technology. She is studying to be a teacher of the visually impaired at Portland State. You might also recognize her from the Serotalk podcast Triple Click Home.

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