Veteran U.S. Paralympic medalists added three more Alpine skiing medals on the first day of competition at the Paralympics on Saturday.
The greatest success came in women’s sitting downhill, where Alana Nichols and Laurie Stephens took silver and bronze. Nichols, the first U.S. woman to win gold medals in the Summer and Winter Paralympics, took her sixth career Paralympic medal. She was .14 of a second behind gold medalist Anna Schaffelhuber of Germany.
“I really feel like I could have skied better,” Nichols said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Not terribly happy with the performance today, but considering I hung in there and was able to finish in second, I consider it a win.”
Stephens won her fifth career Paralympic medal.
Earlier, seven-time Paralympian Allison Jones led it off with a bronze in the standing downhill. Jones, who has won Summer and Winter Paralympic medals in cycling and Alpine skiing, bagged the eighth of her career.
The defending Olympic champion U.S. men’s ice sledge hockey team beat Italy 5-1 to open its schedule. It got two goals from Brody Roybal.
The U.S. wheelchair curling team lost its first two games, 6-4 to Slovakia and 9-5 to South Korea.
Russia won 12 medals overall Saturday to take a comfortable lead in the overall medal table. The U.S.’ three medals tied for third after the first of 10 days of competition.
Sochi Paralympics broadcast schedule
Los Angeles Lakers point guard José Calderón retired from Spain’s national team after playing in his fourth Olympics in Rio.
Calderón, 34, earned silver medals in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016 for Spain, which lost to the U.S. in the medal rounds at each of the last three Olympics.
Calderón is one of five Spaniards to play in the last four Olympic tournaments, along with Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and Felipe Reyes.
Calderón came off the bench in Rio and played 25 minutes total in five of the team’s eight games. He’s entering his 12th season in the NBA.
Gasol, who will be 40 years old come Tokyo 2020, has not determined when he will end his international career.
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Helen Maroulis nervously stood to the side of Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh as he introduced the Olympic gold medalist to his players, in full pads and ready to take the field, in their locker room Saturday.
“When you beat a legend, you become a legend,” Harbaugh told the team and Maroulis. “You’re a legend, so our guys want to hear about it.”
Maroulis, who beat three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida to become the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion, then stepped up. Wearing a Ravens jersey — “No. 16 Maroulis” — and her gold medal, she addressed the team.
“I was incredibly nervous,” Maroulis said later. “I just speak from the heart.”
Her full speech before the Ravens-Lions preseason game Saturday:
“A lot of people asked if I knew I was going to win before the finals. And, no, I don’t ever know if I’m going to win before a match. And I’ve always said, I’m not called to be a Magic 8-Ball. I’m called to be a wrestler. So my job isn’t to predict the future. My job is to step out there and give everything that I have. Just through studying opponents and studying people’s mindsets and trying to figure out what was going to work for me, I just realized that you have to give everything you have, and you have to sacrifice everything that needs to be sacrificed, but you can’t take anything with you into a match that’s going to guarantee you a win. Like all the hard work, everything, that doesn’t promise you a win. You still have to step out there as if you’re wrestling for your life, or you’re fighting for your life. Did I know I was going to beat her? No. But I always say, Christ is in me. I am enough. I didn’t need to be perfect that day. I didn’t need to be the fastest. I just needed to be enough. And on that day I was enough to win.”
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