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Ecstasy and defeat for Team USA Paralympic women’s super-G

Team USA experienced both wins and losses for yesterday’s women’s super-G alpine skiing events at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games. Stephanie Jallen, in her Winter Games debut, scored a bronze metal in standing competition while Laurie Stephens won bronze in the sitting event. Tragically, Alana Nichols and Stephani Victor experienced serious crashes, each requiring a helicopter transport to nearby medical facilities.

Bronze medalist Stephanie Jallen of USA celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women's Super-G -Sitting
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
 Laurie Stephens of USA competes in the Women's Super-G - Sitting during day three of Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
Getty Images

In an amazing debut with her first run of the Games, eighteen year old Stephanie Jallen crossed the finish line at 1:30.14 to receive the bronze for standing super-G. Jallen just barely beat her veteran teammate, Allison Jones, by only a half-second. Jones has done well so far at the Games, chalking up a bronze for the downhill standing event.

With particularly challenging surface conditions and two of her teammates taking crashes on the course, Laurie Stephens was able to secure a bronze medal for Team USA with a time of 1:32.09. This gives Stephens her second bronze medal for this Paralympics. She has been competing in the Paralympics since Torino 2006, and now has six medals overall.

Alana Nichols and Stephani Victor also competed in the sitting super-G, but experienced harsh crashes that required airlift to local medical facilities. Overall, half of the eight women competing in today’s race did not finish. Additionally, yesterdays men’s sitting super-G saw 19 out of 31 not finishing; bring into question the conditions of the course. Daytime temperatures at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center have been sunny with temperatures in the 50’s F, making for soft snow and irregular terrain.

Sit skiing can be more challenging than standing, as the athlete must rely on only their only their upper bodies and arms to maneuver. Less than favorable conditions further add to difficulty for control. When the terrain becomes bumpy, the athlete is reliant on the shock absorber in sit ski to maintain stability.

Team USA officials reported that the athletes were“conscious and responsive", and staying overnight at the hospital. At approximate 11:00AM EST today, Alana Nichols reported on her Facebook page, “Hey friends, sorry it's taken me a while to update...I am just fine. I was knocked unconscious and had to have stitches in my chin but feel incredibly blessed to have left the mountain today in the shape I am in. My teammate Stephani Victor-Kuonen is in the room next to me and she is also going to be okay. She's got a pretty banged up face... Praying for a quick recovery for both of us. Thank you all for the love, prayers and all of the support... It means more than you know.”

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