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
NBC Olympics, Facebook and Instagram will team up to provide video highlights and interviews on social media daily during the Rio Olympics.
An on-site “Social Command Center” in Rio will capture Facebook Live content, including interviews with athletes and NBC Olympics commentators.
A daily two-minute recap video will be produced for Facebook, while Instagram will have a daily slow-motion video around an inspiring moment.
Instagram will also feature NBC Olympics commentators and athletes on its own account, @instagram, along with highlights of NBC videos through its Search & Explore video channels.
More on the NBC Olympics, Facebook and Instagram partnerships is here.
MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster
Russia’s depleted Olympic team named its flag bearer for the Rio Games Opening Ceremony, giving the honor to volleyball player Sergei Tetyukhin, who’s set to make his sixth Olympic appearance at 40 years old.
The announcement came via the Instagram page for Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who has become somewhat of a spokesperson for the Russian team amidst the country’s doping scandal. Isinbayeva will not compete in Rio since her nation’s track and field team is banned, but she spoke to Russia’s athletes during a ceremony Wednesday.
“Today, as never before, we need to stay united and become a family,” Tetyukhin said before the athletes departed for Rio on Thursday.
Russia’s flag bearer was set to be announced Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS, but Isinbayeva said in her Instagram post (according to Google translate), “Flag bearer at the Olympics in Rio have already been defined, it is a great athlete, Olympic champion, Sergey Tetyukhin volleyball. Yesterday at a reception at the President he acted with dignity and promised to fight for the victory in Rio.”
The Russian men’s volleyball team has won a medal at the past four Olympics, but Tetyukhin’s time with the team began at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Russia placed fourth there, then took silver in 2000, bronze in 2004 and 2008, and gold in 2012. Tetyukhin was Russia’s third-leading scorer in London.
The team will be an outside medal contender in Rio. After winning the FIVB World League in 2013, the Russians have placed no better than fifth since. They finished fifth at the 2014 World Championship, fourth at the 2015 World Cup, and sixth at the 2015 European Championship.
Tennis star Maria Sharapova was Russia’s flag bearer for the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, but she will miss the Rio Games while serving a drug suspension.
MORE: Number of Russian athletes banned from Olympics reaches 105