Thursday, March 13, 2014

Catch the Sochi Paralympics! Join a Paralympic Sport Club!

Brenda Davies teaches the fundamentals
of turning on a sitski at the Weston Ski Track.
Today is Day 7 of the 10 day Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. The host country is far ahead of the international pack of 45 competing countries with 50 medals, 18 of them gold. The U.S. had 8 medals so far, 4 silver and 4 bronze, thanks to wonderful ski performances in challenging conditions . The US sled hockey team, undefeated in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics, will fight Russia for the gold medal on March 15.

Don't miss the Winter Paralympics! They are in progress through March 16. Media attention on this spectacular event is more extensive than ever before! You can view great daily coverage on NBCSN, YouTube Paralympic TV, and even On Demand if you get NBCSN. Like U.S. Paralympics on facebook for updates, stories and images. Catch video clips of Team USA here.

Universal Access Program volunteers oversee a
downhill race between two brothers on sitskis.
This winter's Paralympics is the largest yet, with almost 700 athletes attending. They are competing in 5 sports - alpine skiing, sled hockey, wheelchair curling, biathlon and nordic skiing  - with snowboard cross as a brand new competitive venue. I caught Day1 coverage last Saturday on my local NBCSN channel and watched sled hockey, biathlon, and downhill events. It was absolutely fantastic - much like watching the Olympics for coverage quality.

There is a nice connection between ordinary recreation and performance sports. So many of the adaptive activities we offer in Massachusetts State Parks provide an introductory experience that can potentially funnel an interested athlete towards the Paralympics - if an individual is inspired and talented and supported to pursue this route. Paralympic Sports Clubs are sprouting up all over the U.S. to help individuals discover their potential for competition and train.

Tom McCarthy, Universal Access Program director,
shoots the puck with sled hockey players in a state rink.
Cross county skiing is our winter sport that most corresponds to the Winter Paralympics. For this reason I am showing images from our programs instead of the Paralympics for this post. We also offer adaptive skating and can introduce kids and adults to sleds and informal hockey, as well as point the way to the closest sled hockey team. Youngsters with disabilities as well as adults and veterans are great candidates for Paralympic sports.

DCR's Universal Access Program recently became a Paralympic Sport Club. This status allow us to help promote Paralympic awareness and encourage those interested in competing towards the appropriate training.

Click here for a full list of Paralympic Sports Clubs in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

And don't miss the US - RUSSIA gold medal sled hockey game this Saturday!!!!!

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