McFadden wins silver medal in Paralympic sit ski sprint


Paralympic Tatyana McFadden completes the home stretch of a race, Jan. 4, 2014, during the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Championship at Solider Hollow Resort in Midway, Utah.

By Philip Hersh

The redoubtable Tatyana McFadden has done it again.

The young woman for whom nothing seems impossible joined the group of athletes who have won medals in winter and summer Paralympic competition when she took silver in Wednesday’s sit ski sprint at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I can’t even believe it. My main goal was just to come in and make it to the final,” McFadden said in a release from the U.S. Paralympic team. “I am just so happy and so proud.”

McFadden, 24, who was graduated in December from the University of Illinois, finished one-tenth of a second behind winner Mariann Marthinsen of Norway in the 1-kilometer (.62-mile) race.

A three-time track gold medalist at the 2012 summer Paralympics, she took up skiing barely one year ago.

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    “It’s pretty amazing for Tatyana to be able to finish what she started…taking someone from a summer sport and putting them in a sit ski and teaching them to ski effectively and try to have them win a medal for you is a tough task in just one winter of skiing,” said John Farra, the U.S. Paralympic Nordic program director.

    Wednesday’s race had three rounds on soft snow. McFadden was fourth in the qualifying round and second to Marthinsen in the semifinals.

    Her final individual Paralympic race is to be Sunday’s 5-kilometers.

    Three other U.S. athletes competing in Sochi have won medals in the summer and winter Paralympics: Alison Jones (cycling/alpine skiing); Alana Nichols (basketball/alpine skiing); and Oksana Masters (rowing/ cross-country skiing).

    Last year, McFadden became the first wheelchair racer to sweep four of the world’s major marathons — Boston, London, New York and Chicago.