Tatyana McFadden

Tatyana McFadden claims surprise Paralympic silver medal

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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.

Paralympic broadcast schedule

NCAA runners stop to help opponent cross the finish line (video)

Madeline Adams
NC State Athletics
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Boston College’s Madeline Adams dropped to the ground during the final meters of the ACC Cross-Country Championships on Friday.

What happened next was reminiscent of one of the most memorable Rio Olympic track and field moments.

Clemson’s Evie Tate stopped and helped Adams up at the Cary, N.C., 6k race. Then, Louisville’s Rachel Pease did the same.

Pease would finish 127th and Tate 128th out of 131 finishers. Adams was disqualified.

Tate was running around 70th or 80th place when she stopped, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which means her aid ended up costing Clemson about 10 points in the team scores.

Clemson was sixth, 23 points behind fifth-place Syracuse, so Tate’s act of sportsmanship actually didn’t change the Tigers’ placing. NC State won, Louisville was fourth and Boston College 12th.

The scene  brought to mind the Rio Olympic women’s 5000m heats, when American Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin fell and then crossed the finish line together.

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Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir back Gracie Gold for discussing weight in figure skating

SPOKANE, WA - APRIL 23:  Gracie Gold of Team North America competes in the Ladie's Free Program on day 2 of the 2016 KOSE Team Challenge Cup at Spokane Arena on April 23, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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NBC Sports figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir supported Gracie Gold‘s transparency in her comments about weight and figure skating.

“These are thoughts that every skater’s thinking about, but I think you don’t [see skaters] talk about it because in reality saying you need to lose weight when you’re already thin is a bit crazy,” Lipinski said. “In figure skating, gymnastics, ballet, there is always this pressure to be very thin, not only for aesthetics, but just for your actual sport and how you use your body. Weight definitely does play an issue. In skating, you’re three times your weight in the air, and you’re landing on one foot on a tiny blade.”

Lipinski and Weir said they struggled with weight issues while skating. They became too thin.

“Being a skater, I understand where Gracie was coming from,” Weir said. “To the masses, whenever you talk about diet and food and getting in shape physically, when you are an athlete on TV and you look like you are in shape compared to most of the country, it can be a little bit of a disconnect between the athletes appearing on TV and the audience.”

Weir lauded Gold for not only being open about not being at peak fitness — after taking much of the summer off — but also to compete at a top-level event like Skate America under those circumstances. (Gold said she considered skipping the Grand Prix season.)

“It’s all about telling the truth, saying, ‘I’m not in shape. I’m not there yet, but just wait, and I’ll give it to you,'” Weir said.

Weir said it could lead to more open discussions in the sport.

“You hope that, over time, you can start to look at the skaters that have been great champions and realize everyone has a different body type,” Lipinski said.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule