Team USA won’t formally announce its 2022 Winter Paralympics roster until later this week, but we already have a pretty good idea of who will be on it. The hockey, Nordic skiing, and biathlon lineups are set, and only a few spots remain up for grabs on the alpine skiing, snowboarding, and curling teams.
A number of impressive newcomers have already made the team or are expected to do so. Here are the first-time Winter Paralympians we’re most excited to see next month in Beijing.
Katyln Maddry, snowboarding (LL2)
At last month’s World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Maddry finished a surprising fourth in banked slalom, barely missing the bronze medal. It was a bold debut for the 21-year-old Alaskan in her first championship-level event. She followed that up with two medals (one silver, one bronze) at the World Cup event in Klövsjö, Sweden. Maddry started racing internationally just before COVID arrived, so she’s only been able to gain as much competitive experience as the pandemic allowed. While she’s not a medal favorite in Beijing, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see her sneak onto a podium.
Malik Jones, sled hockey
One of the few teenagers on Team USA, the 19-year-old Jones made a name for himself last fall by netting the go-ahead goal in a duel against Team Canada. “He’s a forward who can create offense, and not everyone has that ability,” US coach David Hoff told NHL.com. “He makes players he plays with better, giving them opportunities to score.” Jones has been playing against top-flight competition since middle school. You can expect him to get extensive time on the ice in Beijing.
Lera Doederlein, Nordic skiing (sitting)
We don’t expect Doederlein to win any medals—not this year, anyway. But in 2026 or 2030? We’d bet a few dollars on that. Just 18 years old, Doederlein is clearly a quick learner. It’s only been five years since she lost her legs, and only two since she took up Nordic skiing at the behest of Oksana Masters, who like Doederlein was born in Russia with congenital limb difference and adopted into an American family. Along the way, Doederlein also got good enough at sled hockey to spend some time on the US National Developmental Team. She finished second at the US Sit Ski Nationals in January.
Dani Aravich Nordic skiing (standing)
Just six months after making her Summer Paralympic debut in track and field, Aravich will compete in her first Winter Paralympics in both cross-country skiing and biathlon. The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games forced her to train simultaneously for track and skiing, but she’s managed to pull it off. A relative newcomer to winter sports, Aravich didn’t start Nordic skiing until 2019. “I see a very long future for myself in this sport,” she told TeamUSA.org. “I’m trying to not put too much pressure on myself yet, because I am so young in the skiing and biathlon world.”