Top Team USA Moments To Close Out The 2022 Winter Paralympics
by Lisa Costantini
The Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 might be over, but we’ll always have the memories. After nine action-packed days of competition, take a walk down memory lane to check out some of the top Team USA moments from the last week of the Games.
(L-R) Kendall Gretsch and Oksana Masters pose after the women's individual sitting biathlon finals at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 11, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
Oksana Masters And Kendall Gretsch Dominate
Earning two handfuls of medals — and half of Team USA’s 20-count total — was Nordic skiers Oksana Masters, 32, and Kendall Gretsch, 29. The pair went one, two, respectively, in women’s individual sitting biathlon. Gretsch also picked up a gold and a bronze in her six para biathlon and para cross-country races. On the final day of competition, Masters won gold in her final event, the mixed relay. With a place on the podium at all seven of her events (3 gold, 4 silver), Masters became the first American to win seven medals in a single Paralympics. She is now the most decorated U.S. Winter Paralympian of all time with 14.
Brenna Huckaby celebrates winning the women's banked slalom snowboard SB-LL2 at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 11, 2022 in Beijing.
Brenna Huckaby Nabs Third Career Gold, And A Bronze In Beijing
Two-time Paralympian Brenna Huckaby captured the first snowboarding gold for Team USA and her third career gold. She is now tied for most gold medals by a Paralympic snowboarder with her hero, Bibian Mentel-Spee of The Netherlands. Huckaby claimed the top spot on the podium in banked slalom despite sitting in fourth after her first run. In her second and final run, the 26-year-old put down the fastest time of the competition, leapfrogging her competitors to claim her fourth Paralympic medal and second of the Beijing Games. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native took bronze in snowboardcross earlier in the week.
Thomas Walsh celebrates winning silver in the men's giant slalom finals at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 10, 2022 in Beijing.
Thomas Walsh Wins Alpine Skiing’s First U.S. Alpine Medal Of The Games
Winning the first medal in Beijing for the U.S. Alpine team — and his first-ever medal — was two-time Paralympian Thomas Walsh. The 27-year-old claimed silver in the men’s standing giant slalom, improving on his seventh-place finish from PyeongChang. The Vail, Colorado native competed in four events, with the super combined his next best finish in one of his favorite disciplines. His last event was the slalom, where he dropped one spot from his fifth place from PyeongChang. The cancer survivor also has two bronze medals to his name from the world championships.
The Team USA sled hockey team celebrates their gold medal during the para ice hockey medal ceremony during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 13, 2022 in Beijing.
Sled Hockey Closes Out Beijing With Gold, A Record 4-Peat
For Team USA’s sled hockey team — the only team to go undefeated in Beijing — their matchup against Team Canada in the finals must have felt like déjà vu. Four years after beating the nation to the north in the gold medal match in overtime, the U.S. again claimed the top spot on the podium, beating Canada 5-0 — the same score from their matchup in the earlier round. Their victory makes them the only country to win four consecutive Paralympic championships and the only country to win more than one gold. The U.S. now holds five out of eight Paralympic titles since sled hockey was added to the program in 1994.
Matthew Thums, Steve Emt, Pamela Wilson and Batoyun Uranchimeg compete against Team Canada at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 7, 2022 in Beijing.
Wheelchair Curling Improves Seven Spots From PyeongChang To Finish Fifth
The U.S wheelchair curling team closed their time in Beijing in fifth-place, tying their second-best finish ever, and a giant leap forward after 12th-place four years ago at the PyeongChang Games. Team USA went 5-5 overall in the competition, and despite winning their last match over South Korea, they narrowly missed the semi-finals due to a previous loss to Sweden. Two steps off the podium is one of the team’s best since wheelchair curling made its debut at the Games in 2006. Combined with their results from the most recent world championships — where they came in fourth — the future looks bright for the curlers.
Tyler Carter poses for a picture during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 9, 2022 in Beijing.
Tyler Carter’s Journey From Flag Bearer To His Final Paralympic Race
Twelve years after he was first inspired to become a Paralympian, watching the Vancouver Games in person as a student-athlete, Tyler Carter raced in his third and final Paralympics. The 28-year-old — who was chosen along with his teammate Danelle Umstead to be the Opening Ceremony flag bearers for the U.S. — competed in four events in Beijing. In the Topton, Pennsylvania native’s final Paralympic race, he finished 33rd in the men’s standing giant slalom. His best finish in Beijing was 31st in the downhill.
Sam Wood, Oksana Masters, Sydney Peterson, Jake Adicoff and Dan Cnossen celebrate after winning the para cross-country 4x2.5-kilometer mixed relay at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 13, 2022 in Beijing.
Nordic Skiing Finishes With A Gold In The Mixed Relay
In a sport normally focused on individual competition, Team USA’s Nordic team came together in a big way at the 2022 Games. A first-ever mixed relay gold closed out the para cross-country competition in Beijing thanks to a strong finish in the 4x2.5-kilometer mixed relay. The relay team featured three-time Paralympian Dan Cnossen, the most seasoned medalist for Team USA in Beijing, as well as Oksana Masters. In the 4x2.5-kilometer open relay, first-time Paralympians Max Nelson, guided by Simi Hamilton, and Drew Shea teamed up with veterans Kendall Gretsch and Ruslan Reiter to finish ninth. With four gold, eight silvers and two bronze, Team USA’s Para Nordic skiers left Beijing with an impressive 14 medals.
Flag bearer Keith Gable walks during the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 13, 2022 in Beijing.
The Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 Conclude
After nine action-packed days, the Closing Ceremony saw the flame go out on the Beijing Winter Games. Three-time Paralympic snowboarder Keith Gabel — who made his Paralympic debut in 2014 when his sport was added to the program — was elected as the flag bearer for the U.S. Around 50 American athletes were in attendance out of the 67-member delegation at the Beijing National Stadium. Team USA closed out the games with a 20 medals (6 gold, 11 silver, 3 bronze) to finish fifth among all nations. The women were to thank for more than half, landing on the podium 14 times. Nine U.S. athletes took home their first Paralympic medal.
Lisa Costantini is a freelance writer based in Orlando. She has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications, and has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2011.