The Olympics and Paralympics have always been about more than winning and losing. They appeal to universal traits such as perseverance, discipline, resilience, and fellowship. The Games are less focused on fame and fortune than other sporting events, and more about the common human impulse to test our potential and make the most of it. It may sound corny, but it’s why the Paralympics draw a massive global audience, including hundreds of millions of people who otherwise don’t follow sports.
Those themes show up again and again in the social media feeds of American amputees who are participating in this year’s Winter Paralympics. Here’s a sampling of relatable statements that capture the spirit that draws the whole world to the Olympic and Paralympic flame every couple of years.
Brittani Coury, snowboarder
The past four years have been challenging to say the least. I fractured my spine twice, tore both labrums in my hips twice, fractured my pelvis, had a revision of my leg, and suffered multiple concussions. I worked on the front lines during COVID and on the floor while training. I’ve cried so many tears during this pandemic on and off the field of play. I can say it was worth it because snowboarding and nursing gives me so much joy. My heart is so full right now. [Coury, a 2018 medalist, sacrificed a year of athletic training to work as a nurse on a Covid ward. She fell short in her bid to return to the podium.] Read the full post @brittanicoury.
Tyler Carter, skier
Tears flowing through the smiles. Goodbyes are hard. Lots of emotions as my Paralympic career comes to an end. Blessed to have been able to do this for so long. Never have taken the journey for granted and so damn happy to be here. Dream big, enjoy the journey, and never give up. [Carter, the US flag bearer during the opening ceremonies, appeared in his third and final Paralympic Games this year. He now turns full-time to his career as a museum professional and motivational speaker.] Read the full post @tcskiusa.
Allie Johnson, skier
I guess my Paralympic experience wasn’t complete without a visit to the clinic. I crashed in today’s race and tore two muscles in my groin and hip. Good news is I will more than likely not need surgery, but bad news is that it really fricken’ hurts and I will be back on the rehabilitation train for a while. This is a part of this crazy sport I love so much, and I just feel lucky that it happened during my last race here and not my first. I have the most amazing support team here, so I am in great hands. Good vibes only going into the last few days of the Paralympic games as I continue soaking it all in. [Appearing in her first Paralympics, Johnson raced to a top-12 finish in the giant slalom.] Read the full post @allievjohnson.
Noah Elliott, snowboarder
It would be a lie to say I am not proud of the way I rode in yesterdays races. Coming in with a serious injury & still being able to be here let alone race has completely made my year. Pain, sacrifice and love for sports is what it takes to be at these games. Congratulations to everyone who made the podium and thank you to ALL OF YOU for the support and love on this journey. [Elliott fell short in his bid to repeat as a Paralympic gold medalist. His top finish in 2022 was 4th place in snowboardcross.] Read the full post @elliott_sendy.
Thomas Walsh, skier
Ah the wooden spoon (that’s 4th place for those of you who don’t know). While I could be disappointed with being so close to the podium, given my recent circumstances dealing with Covid, no training, and JUST arriving to a time zone on the opposite side of the globe, I am going to take today as a personal win. [Walsh barely missed the medal stand in his first event in Beijin, but later took second place in the giant slalom to win his first Paralympic medal.] Read the full post @twalnutz.
Brenna Huckaby, snowboarder
This [bronze] medal means more to me than any gold I’ve ever won. This medal symbolizes every person who’s been told “no” but shows up and give it their all anyway. This medal symbolizes people who have been purposefully shut down but chose to stand up and speak out for what is right. This medal is for the underdog who wants the opportunity to compete regardless of how hard the playing field is. I showed up with the most impaired disability on the race track and won a freaking bronze medal. [Huckaby had to go to court to win the right to compete in Beijing outside of her normal classification. She won medals in both of her races, one bronze and one gold.] Read the full post @bren_hucks.
Oksana Masters, Nordic skier
I am beyond proud to stand on the podium representing the heart, fight, love, resiliency, and pure joy for two countries. I want to make every start line mean something, make it really count for more than a result. That’s why I will be donating proceeds of my prize money from the Paralympics here to “No Child Forgotten” managed by @GlobalGiving and Bright Kids Charity, supporting children living with physical disabilities in Ukraine—many of them with single moms. If you want to support me or Ukraine, please think of donating to ensure every child with special needs continues to get care they need during and after the war. [Masters, who was born in Ukraine and brought to the United States as a child, won six medals in Beijing.] Read the full post @oksanamasters.