Have you been following the action of the Paralympic Games, on now through March 18? If not, you totally should be because we have some stellar athletes on the ground in PyeongChang making big waves, including many who train right here in Park City with the National Ability Center. In fact, two NAC snowboarders, Brenna Huckaby and Noah Elliott have already earned spots on the podium and we're fully expecting more of Park City's athletes to medal in the upcoming days.
Huckaby, 22, a rising star in snowboarding, took the win in the Women's Snowboard Cross LL1 event at her debut games, adding a Paraylmpic gold medal to her already impressive array of hardware on the World Championship circuit (3 gold, 1 silver). As the reigning World Champion, Huckaby came into the competition a heavy favorite, but it didn't make the win any less momentous. “I can’t put it into words. I felt so much love after I crossed the finish line and heard the cheering from the crowd,” said Huckaby after her win. “I feel relieved because I’ve worked so hard for this for so long and it paid off. It just feels really good.” Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Huckaby was gunning for a gymnastics scholarship when she was diagnosed with bone cancer. Just one month after her right leg was amputated in 2010, she traveled to Park City with her mother to begin a foray into snowboarding. That’s all it took for Huckaby to channel all the passion she had for gymnastics into a newfound love of the slopes. Since then she’s been training with the NAC and competing. Outside of snowboarding, Huckaby is also a mother, giving birth to her first daughter, Lilah, in May of 2016, and a body positivity activist (she was the first amputee in history to be featured in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition, February 2018).
Noah Elliott, 20, who only started snowboarding last season, brought home the bronze in the Men's Snowboard Cross LL1. After his left leg was amputated above the knee due to bone cancer at age 16, Elliott shifted his attention from skateboarding to a career in snowboarding. Without ever having stepped on a board, he dedicated himself to raising enough money to move himself across the country from St. Louis, Missouri to Park City to become a pro. “I feel very excited and humbled to have the opportunity to be out here and with the best in the world and represent our country so that in itself is really, really cool," said Elliott. "To come out here at my first Games and win a bronze medal with just a year of snowboarding under my belt is just icing on the cake.” (Check out our profile on Elliott and his inspiring journey in snowboarding here).
Keith Gabel, an NAC alum, also took home a silver medal in the Men’s Snowboard-Cross LL2. The U.S. snowboarders will complete their Paralympic program with banked slalom competition on Friday, March 16 beginning at 10:30 a.m. KST/9:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 15. Huckaby, Elliott, and Gabel are all set to compete in the event.
The NAC also has several alpine skiers out in PyeongChang competing that you should be cheering on:
- Kevin Burton - Downhill, Super G, Super Combined, Giant Slalom
- Andrew Haraghey - Downhill, Super G
- Staci Manella (guide Sadi Debaun) - Slalom, Super G, Super Combined, Giant Slalom
- Danelle Umstead (guide Rob Umstead) - Downhill, Slalom, Super G, Super Combined, Giant Slalom,
- Tyler Walker - Slalom, Super G, Super Combined, Giant Slalom
Wondering where to tune in? NBC Olympics is providing 250 hours of coverage from PyeongChang, including 94 hours on television, which is NBC Olympics’ most ever for a Paralympic Winter Games. View full listings for TV and live streams for all of the events via the NBC Olympic website. The NAC has also put together a downloadable watch guide, you get find it here.