The Games will comprise events in Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowboarding, para ice hockey and wheelchair curling.
The United States will be represented by 67 athletes, with backgrounds as varied as their sports. One of them, Alpine skier Andrew Kurka (pictured above), hails from Alaska and has won two medals (a gold in the downhill sitting race and a silver in the super giant slalom sitting race) at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. Kurka, 30, clinched his second bronze medal at the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer in January in the run-up to his second Winter Paralympics.
Here are some others to watch at the 2022 Winter Paralympics:
Declan Farmer, Brody Roybal and Jen Lee
These three sled hockey players hope to help the U.S. team win its fourth straight gold medal. Declan Farmer, 24, Brody Roybal, 23, and Jen Lee, 35, (shown above, from left, with their gold medals in Sochi in 2014) are two-time Paralympians, having also competed at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
Farmer, a bilateral amputee, and Roybal, who was born without legs, are both based in Tennessee. Lee, born in Taipei, immigrated to the U.S. at age 8 with his family and now calls San Antonio home. A U.S. Army staff sergeant, Lee, who lost his left leg above the knee in an accident, says in an interview with TeamUSA that “the military teaches us, and me especially, not to quit.”
Oksana Masters, 32, is a 10-time Paralympic medalist who excels in several sports and will compete in cross-country skiing and biathlon in the 2022 Winter Games.
Born in Ukraine with a condition called tibial hemimelia, Masters needed both legs amputated. She was adopted at age 7 by her mother and lived first in upstate New York and later in Kentucky. She has competed in winter sports (cross-country skiing) and summer sports (rowing and hand cycling). At the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, Masters won five medals, including two golds.
Here, she is shown skiing her way to a silver medal in Pyeongchang. She recently spoke with NBC Olympics about being a multisport athlete, explaining that the variety helps prevent muscle overuse and overtraining. “The best part of balancing three sports,” she says, “is [that] my mind always stays fresh, determined, and motivated.”
David Samsa and Oyuna Uranchimeg
The United States hopes to win its first Paralympics wheelchair curling medal at the upcoming Games with a team featuring David Samsa, 56, and Batoyun “Oyuna” Uranchimeg, 48 (shown above at the 2021 World Wheelchair Curling Championship).
Born and raised in Mongolia, Uranchimeg was visiting Minnesota when a car accident paralyzed her below the waist. She has since made Minnesota her home and taken up curling. She made her world championship debut in 2021.
Minnesota native Samsa played in his first world championship in 2019 and has been on the U.S. national team ever since. Speaking with the media outlet Wbay.com, Samsa explains that the team’s players are in Wisconsin, Colorado, Minnesota and Connecticut. “You practice on your home ice and then you get together and play together.”
Colorado native Brittani Coury, 35 (shown here competing at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, where she won a silver medal), says on her website: “That feeling of knowing I was representing my country — it’s something I will never forget, and I still get goosebumps thinking about it.”
A snowboarder since age 13, Coury sustained an ankle injury on the slopes in 2003, and after multiple surgeries her right leg was amputated below the knee in 2011.
Coury trains hard, even while working as a registered nurse at a Salt Lake City hospital. She looks forward to competing, and perhaps medaling again, as a snowboarder at the 2022 Games.
Thomas Walsh, 27, who is from Colorado and began skiing at age 2, will compete in Alpine skiing.
At 14, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of cancer, and underwent multiple surgeries — plus chemotherapy and radiation treatments. As a result, he has reduced mobility and lungs that function at 50% capacity. He says his discovery of para skiing while in college opened up a new world.
A Paralympics veteran who competed at Pyeongchang in 2018, Walsh is shown above at the 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer. In a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, he cited Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin as an inspiration, someone who makes him push harder as an athlete.