Ten-time Summer Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden won her first Winter Paralympic medal Wednesday, silver in the 1km cross-country sprint, less than two years after she picked up skiing.
McFadden, 24, finished 4.61 seconds behind Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen to win one of two U.S. medals Wednesday. Alpine skier Laurie Stephens added bronze in the sitting slalom.
McFadden won her medal in front of her Russian birth mother and the director of her former Russian orphanage.
Sochi marks a bit of a homecoming for McFadden, who was born in Russia paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida and adopted from a St. Petersburg orphanage at age 6.
McFadden grew into a Paralympic track and field star and had unprecedented success in 2013, when she became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single International Paralympic Committee Track and Field World Championship. She also captured the first major wheelchair marathon “Grand Slam,” sweeping Boston, London, Chicago and New York City.
She was encouraged to pick up cross-country skiing by Alana Nichols, the first U.S. woman to win gold medals in the Summer (wheelchair basketball) and Winter (Alpine skiing) Paralympics.
McFadden had never made the podium in a World Cup cross-country skiing race before winning her silver medal in Sochi.
Also Wednesday, the U.S. wheelchair curling team beat China 10-2 and Sweden 8-3 to keep its hopes alive of advancing to the semifinals with one game left.
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.