Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Andy Soule and His Versatile Approach to Nordic Skiing Print E-mail
Written by Orge Castellano   

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—- The patriotic instinct of Andrew “Andy” Soule led him to pursue a career in the army following the September 11 attacks, for the young men it wasn’t a hard decision, he had the strong-minded willing to serve his country, in a way he felt he had the obligation to protect and defend his people back home. The destination where he was deployed to, was Afghanistan, joining the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He never imagined what fate could have in store for the rookie, even thought he was aware of the dangerous assignment that this honorable role entailed his mission was humble, never thinking that his journey would become an all-familiar story for so many veterans.

asset_TL3_4248_5301_ioc_2018-03-13_170641.jpgAndrew Soule USA competes during the Biathlon Sitting Men’s 12.5km at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre. The Paralympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Tuesday 13th March 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC.

It was in 2005 when on patrol–in a Humvee–an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that detonated eminently changing the trajectory of his life. The device that took the life of another brother in arms in his unit and his legs was an unimaginable second chance for him. It was while he was in rehabilitation, he was introduced to the paralympic sports movement for his recovery. “Post-injury, Paralympic sport felt like a natural fit,” he said.

Now, it has been several years since he attended a cross country nordic skiing clinic held by “Wood River Ability Program” in Sun Valley, ID with a lot of curiosity, interest and caution. He immediately fell in love with it and it didn’t take him long time to get hooked on that snow discipline. Director of the program Marc Mast made a huge impact on the veteran, who was lost and didn’t know how to carry on with his life after the traumatic experience of amputation.

After Soule started training he showed incredible natural promise for the sport of cross country skiing. Quickly he was embraced by the US disabled ski team, soon he was travelling all over, globally and across the country, competing in world cup events as he honed his skills with dedicated practise and a sharp sense of discipline like a razor blade. When he discovered Biathlon then he promptly realized he needed to give it a try, he was a master of the guns already.

“I had a base of shooting skills already. I certainly had to learn the particulars of biathlon shooting and it’s quite a steep curve in some ways, but I think that I picked it up fairly quickly. My shooting experience growing up had been casual target shooting and then the military. In biathlon there is more emphasis on the individual shot”

However it was in Vancouver 2010 when Soule did America proud, there he became the first US biathlete to win a Paralympic medal, it was a bronze one in the 2.4km sitting pursuit at his first Paralympic Games in ever. The international plattform served him up on a platter of consecutive streak of successes.That’s why he set high expectations for the next Games. During Sochi 2014, it was an ideal opportunity to clinch more shiny medals, but the try wasn’t victorious.

Mr. Soule had lot of races to compete in coming into Pyeongchang 2018, one the largest participations in his entire career. But that didn’t matter at all to the veteran who knows perfectly well how to balance out his dedicated sports life.

“For Cross Country and Biathlon there a lot of pieces that I’ve working on in the last for years. That emcopases both pschology, nutrition all sorts of technic work as well as just straight physical training.”

The pressure factor doesn’t get him, mainly due to the fact that out in the field there are some many aspects of the races that he can’t control. After all this is a man who has been through it all “I just focus on performing every individual task in ski racing and in Biathlon the best I can.” he said.

For the first events, Andy seemed drained, and even discouraged, but he played the consistency game he knows so well. He put out a great technical show to the spectators at the Alpensia Biathlon Center

The veteran never gave up and despite the weather conditions–it was 70 degrees at one point–and the ferocious contenders, he endured. He didn’t let anything affect his strong sense of dedication, even as he was one of the last ones on the course to cross that enduring finish line.

On Wednesday, March 14th Soule unleashed a powerful surge and leaned at the line to win his first Paralympic gold medal, one day after winning Bronze in the Middle-distance Biathlon race. This one was photo finish moment for the Texan, one could even see how anxious he was, silver was secured, but at the end he was awarded the elusive gold.


2018-03-11-00955.jpgAndy Soule competes in the men’s 15-kilometer sitting cross-country at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 11, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin


“It’s so exciting. And it’s all due to so many hours and years of preparation and work by so many people, not just me. The teammates and coaches and technical staff. And wonderful support from family and friends” he said after the tactical race.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 March 2018 04:15
Paralympics 2018 - You Don't Know Jack Wallace… Yet Print E-mail
Written by Josh Eisenberg   

GANGNEUNG, South Korea—-The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), located in Ewing, New Jersey has a bio engineering department.  Their description of their program on their website lists their department’s goals as having to, “Design and develop instruments, devices, and computational models to evolve modern healthcare.” This is fitting for someone as bright and someone who is disabled by a boating accident during their youth. The person being referred to is Jack Wallace of the U.S. Sled Hockey Team. He happens to wear a prosthetic on his leg. Jack, who is majoring in this field at TCNJ is taking the semester off so he could focus on one thing: to bring home a gold medal to his family, friends and the entire nation; which would be his first with the team.

2018-03-13-01432#8 Jack Wallace attempts to get the puck against the wall during the Team USA Sled Hockey match against South Korea on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

Jack is a Jersey boy, born and raised from Franklin Lakes, NJ. He grew up not far from teammate and Captain Josh Pauls. He now lives 20 minutes from his Assistant Captain, Declan Farmer, who attends Princeton University. Jack splits time between college, practice for Team USA and and his other club he just joined (after the NJ Freeze folded), the NY Rangers Sled Team. While his favorite Jersey Shore character might be Pauly D, that isn’t who he looks up to. Rather he looks up to two people: his idol #30 on the NJ Devils, former goalkeeper Martin Brodeur and his biggest inspiration in life,  his father, John Wallace.

3fbe7305-3630-4de7-a4eb-196582839fd2Jack Wallace, Following the 8-0 Win over South Korea, was all smiles. Tuesday March 13, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon Galea

“He has had it rough throughout the his life and he pushes me to keep going.”, Said Wallace of his father, continuing, “He’s always working, striving to be a better person.”

For Wallace, he’s a player who never knew how to play hockey before his accident; he sure learned quick while at Camp No Limits in Maine, a camp specializing in kids with limb deficiency. When it comes to sports, Jack is no one trick pony. His hobbies also include skiing and boating. But it’s woodworking with his family and playing the guitar which helps him keep his cool.

The way that Jack warms up for a game is throwing a tennis ball against a wall to loosen up his arms while listening to popular hip hop on his phone. “It chills me out,” he said. He’ll need the keep cool factor to avoid defenders  when he attempts to sink a goal in the net. In his first three games in Gangneung, during the 2018 Paralympics, he accumulated two of them.

“I mean, it’s a goal for the team,” he said, “You thank the guys who passed you the puck.” but he doesn’t think about it as he is shooting. He just wants the puck to go in.

As for the game plan for him and Team USA? Jack explains that he and his United States Sled Hockey Team brothers have one goal in mind: gold, but they aren’t exactly planning for it.

2018-03-13-00970A face-off between Jack Wallace of the USA Sled Hockey Team and Byeong Seon Cho of the South Korean Sled Hockey Team. March 13, 2018 PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

“I mean really we go into each game with a game plan and an open mind. We’re gonna play our style, but we’re gonna look at the adjustments that the coaches make and the players do their jobs, but we don’t go thinking this one’s gonna be a close one or this one’s gonna be a close one, or this one’s gonna be a blow out. We just go in ready to play our style.”

For this 19-year-old sled star and the rest of the USA, Jack’s time is now.

Rico Roman: An Officer on the Ice and a Gentleman Print E-mail
Written by Josh Eisenberg   

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—- As far as USA Sled Hockey’s Rico Roman could remember growing in in Oregon, he wanted to be a soldier,

“I kind of followed in my uncle’s footsteps, by joining the military. Once I got in the military, I wanted to make a career out of it. I was enjoying it.” Says Roman, referring to his service days.

CJ6I3052.jpgRico Roman posing for our camera March 14, 2018 during a press opportunity. PHOTO CREDIT: Michael A. Clubine

However, for this veteran, things took a sharp turn after an encounter with an IED on a tour of Iraq. It exploded, his left leg would need to be amputated. After going through rehab in San Antonio, Texas, Roman, now finds solace in sled hockey. Now the soldier has gone from (U.S. Military) to General of the Ice.

“I did my rehab in ‘07…” said Roman continuing, “I did my rehab with a group called Operation Comfort. They help war wounded veterans in San Antonio. They helped me into their hand cycling program and then they invited me to play Sled Hockey.”

At first, it was not that simple at first to get Rico Roman on the ice,  “I must have said no about 10 times. I finally gave in and I was instantly hooked. You know the camaraderie, the brotherhood. We had an all veteran team in San Antonio and all different branches of military, all on one team and played for that team for almost a year. And my coach at the time Lonnie Hannah, who was a Paralympian, said that I should try out for the 2010 team. I went and tried out… didn’t make it, came back the next year and tried out again and I made it the following year.”

Rico had the honor of lighting the caldron at the 2014 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though for him, it’s not about the personal achievements. He doesn’t like to be called a hero.

“The hardest thing, is that you have to play and you know, everyone’s got a lot of bumps and bruises, and you have to play through those. Because it’s not just about yourself, it’s about the team.”

2018-03-13-01482.jpg#23 Rico Roman jams a South Korean opponent in their 8-0 win on March 13, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

Even with all the sportsmanship and bonds between teammates, playing for his country comes first. Just don’t tell Rico that team USA is the favorite to win the gold medal in PyeongChang, because he won’t accept that.

“I don’t fall into that. We just want to focus on one game at a time, one team at a time and make sure that we are in that gold medal match to compete, and then bring back a gold medal for Team USA.”

Rico is no stranger to receiving gold after he grabbed the top spot with the United States Sled Hockey team in Sochi. Rico is proud of his gold saying,

“My favorite thing to do personally, [the gold medal] taking it and showing it to all the people that I can because I don’t feel like it’s my medal. I feel like it’s America’s medal.”

Recap Day 4: Historic Day for USA Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team Print E-mail
Written by Staff   

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea–Team USA Sled Hockey was shutout… in the second period. But they scored six in the first and two in the third to make it 8-0. Declan Farmer recorded his 2nd Hat Trick and had 2 assists. Brody Roybal added two goals along with Joshua Misiewicz, who also had two goals.

Steve “Money” Cash was worth every penny recording just four saves against the South Korean team whose offensive plan was to shut down the U.S. attack by burning time off the clock.

_W1I9973Declan Farmer, who scored a hat trick vs. South Korea  wins a face-off. PHOTO CRDIT: Danny Chin

“They wanted to slow the game down, we kinda expected something like that. They wanted to put the trap on us, but there was some kinda zone trap and we got some pucks thrown at us and it was an endzone type of trap. We got some pucks through and that is what we needed to do,” Said Team USA’s Head Coach Guy Gosselin.

Team USA looks to take down Italy in the semi-finals Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Noon Korean Time.

The Super combined event is a marriage of one Super G run and two Slalom runs combines times. At the end of the Super G it was Team USA’s athletes turn to compete. Even though, the Americans didn’t reach the podium this time, l they produced nine top-10 finishes.

asset_SB5_0231_5260_ioc_2018-03-13_103038.jpgMark Bathum USA races in the Alpine Skiing Visually Impaired Men’s Super Combined at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre. The Paralympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Tuesday 13th March 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC.

Laurie Stephens came in fifth place in the Women’s sitting category and recorded her third-straight top-five finished. In the men’s sitting event Josh Elliott finished in fifth and Andrew Kurka in sixth place.

In the standing divisions, Stephanie Jallen (Harding, PA) was eighth in the women’s and Thomas Walsh was ninth in the men’s going into the final Slalom run. In the Visually Impaired category, it was Henrieta Farkasova who clinched the gold , and the Canadian Mollie Jepsen who took gold in the Standing event. Stephanie Jallen came in 4th position and unfortunately Ally Kunkel did not finish the race. Andrew Kurka missed the podium this time and came in 6th while his countryman Josh Elliott ranked 7th in the men’s sitting category. Overall Team USA put up a good fight but circumstances and conditions just weren’t on their side.

asset_JM1_5978_6038_ioc_2018-03-13_103727.jpgStephanie Jallen USA competes in the Alpine Skiing Standing Women’s Super Combined at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre. The Paralympic Winter Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Tuesday 13th March 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: Joel Marklund for OIS/IOC.

The U.S. Team had eight athletes entered in the most technical of the Nordic events, the Biathlon, which is a combination of cross country skiing and rifle target shooting. Today’s event was the middle distance Biathlon race, the second of three Biathlons to be held during the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games. Women skied the 10km, a 2km loop five times and shooting pellet rifles at five targets four times. The men raced on a bit longer course 12.5km five times and also shot five targets four time. For each target missed the competitors skied a 120 meter penalty loop.

AU7I6999.jpgSean Halsted competes in the men’s sitting biathlon 12.5-kilometer at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 13, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. PHOTO CREDIT: Ken King

Team USA’s Gold medalist in the short distance discipline of Biathlon: Kendall Gretsch finished 4th overall and her teammate Oksana Master withdrew from the race with an injury. First time Paralympian, Ruslan Reiter finished the 12.5km in 11th out of field of 14. Dan Cnossen and Andy Soule, both sit skiers finished the day on the podium with Silver and Bronze, respectively. Dan shot a clean race, never missing a target, wasn’t the case of Soule who despite missing two shots still took home a medal.

The next Nordic event, a Sprint Classic race, will be held on March 14th, 2018.

Team USA Sweeps Sled Hockey Preliminaries, Beating South Korea 8-0 Print E-mail
Written by Josh Eisenberg   

GANGNEUNG, South Korea —- The volume was 106.8 Db. The house shook. This was not a metaphor… the house literally shook. It was standing room only. There were more butts than seats.. “Loud” or “deafening” weren’t the words to use in Gangneung Hockey Centre on Tuesday. Aurally, for ear canals around the rink it was a bloody mess.  Korea brought the weight of nation to face off against the stars and stripes, the Men from the American Sled Hockey Team were not phased by the uproar of the Korean nation in the least.

“The crowd! I mean it was just so loud!” said American Forward Rico Roman, “It was just so loud and the energy was all there..”

2018-03-13-00928.jpgTeam USA Sled Hockey helped make the stadium extra loud during the match with South Korea. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

As for the game, the U.S. Sled Hockey Team members knew things would be a little different today.

“We knew it would be a harder match” said U.S. Coach Guy Gosselin,”We knew the Koreans would give us all they had.”

Korea took a power play with just over ten minutes left in the first and USA’s Brody Roybal made the Koreans pay big time. His seventh goal of the tournament came off passes from Nikko Landeros and Declan Farmer. The second goal came soon after, at 6:40 from Farmer who picked up right where he left off on Monday vs. the Czechs. Jack Wallace and Ralph DeQuebec picked up the assists and the goal during this Paralympics. It was the 11th point for Framer, so far in 3 games (He has 6 goals and 5 assists).

“You know everyone likes scoring goals and stuff,” quipped Farmer, “It’s all about getting those wins and moving onto the next round, so we’re really looking forward to playing Italy.”

In their first 4 attempts, Team USA went 50% on goals. Jong Kyung Lee picked up a penalty for interference which sent the Americans on the power play once again. And once again the Americans went rabid. A goal for #24 Josh Misiewicz, his first for the PyeongChang Paralympics, fed from  Nikko Landeros and Captain Josh Pauls. The score was 3-0 already with 6 minutes and change left in the first. One minute later it was 4-0. Misiwewicz picked up his second on the day with the help of Kevin Mckee and Brody Roybal. Misiewicz feels like a weight has been lifted off of him after scoring his first two of the season:


2018-03-13-01360.jpgJoshua Misiewicz deposits his second goal in the net on Tuesday in the 8-0 win over host country South Korea. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

“I mean it felt good, because i had a couple chances the two games before and I didn’t capitalize on it, so it finally felt good to bury the puck,” said Misiewicz after the win.

Rico Roman picked up a Teeing Penalty for the United States at 12:13, but even down a man could not stop Declan Farmer and Brody Roybal. Farmer (7,8)  scored shorthanded and connected twice to pick up a hat trick within a minute of each other and Brody Roybal got the assists. That was the end of goalkeeper Man Gyun Yu’s day for Korea. The goalie was replaced by his teammate Jae Woong Lee. At the end of the first, there was only one South Korean shot on goal compared to the U.S. who went 6 of 11. 6-0 USA.

The second period started with an early penalty on Rico Roman for holding. Then, with 7:10 left in the period, a 2:00 minute holding minor on South Korea’s Ju Seung Lee sent the great white sharks of the United States Team into a feeding frenzy. There was blood not just coming from the ears as fans from the sound of the arena, there was blood in the water. Korea’s Jung Kyong Lee, as the power play ended, received a monster hit from Ralph DeQuebec of the United States and DeQuebec was sent to the box for roughing. With 25 seconds left in DeQuebec’s penalty minutes, there was a teeing penalty called on Sueng Hwan Jung. The clubs were at 4-on-4 and it was getting ugly. But even with all the ugliness, the Koreans did it. They stopped the United States from scoring in the second period. There was still one problem: The Koreans didn’t score either and there was still a 6-0 difference in score.  After two full periods the United States had 18 shots on goal and the South Korean sled hockey team just had two..

The U.S. drought wouldn’t last. At 33:36 in the game, Travis Dodson resumed the goal making activities by receiving the puck from Rico Roman and Tyler Carron to make the score 7-0 in favor of the United States. Korea’s Young Sung Lee received a 2 minute roughing penalty and was sent to the box along with Kwan Hyouk Choi also for the same infraction. It was 3 on 5 in favor of the United States. In the end, Brody Roybal added one more for the United States, his second of the game. The Final Score was 8-0.

_W1I0366Team USA Celebrates their 8-0 Win over South Korea on Tuesday. PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin

The United States Sled Hockey team plays Italy in the Semi-finals, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Noon Korean Time.

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