Paralympics debuts new sport, gains recognition from media

Amy Purdy is a massage therapist, esthetician, makeup artist, actress, model, reality TV star and snowboarder. In fact, she is training to be the first Paralympian to take home the gold in snowboarding.

“We first got news that [Paralympic snowboarding] wasn’t accepted, but then later on I read in a press release that it was,” Purdy said. “It’s been a whirlwind of emotions. I get to be on a Kellogg’s box, and it’s exciting to see all the support we are getting.”

Purdy is one of many Paralympic athletes competing to fill the 77 slots the U.S. has allocated for 2014.

Amy Purdy. Photo courtesy of Amy Purdy's Facebook page.

Amy Purdy. Photo courtesy of Amy Purdy’s Facebook page.

Purdy started snowboarding when she was 15. Four years later, both of her legs were amputated below the knee after contracting Neisseria meningitides, which causes meningococcal disease. She had a less-than-two-percent chance of survival, but 15 years later, Purdy is training for the chance to stand on the winner’s podium in Sochi.

“It’s amazing, shocking and surprising just knowing that our lives are changing in the most amazing and powerful way,” Purdy said. “It’s been a long time coming, and it feels really good to be where we are at today.”

Viewers will be able to watch Purdy compete, as NBC and the United States Olympic Committee have acquired the U.S. media rights to the Paralympic Games.

NBC and the USOC will be airing 50 hours of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, following alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey, wheelchair curling and snowboarding. NBC Sports Network will air 46.5 hours of the Games, and NBC’s main cable network will air 3.5 hours.

“Following the success of London 2012, we said it was absolutely essential for the growth of the Paralympic Movement and the Paralympic Games that in future years U.S audiences had a greater opportunity to watch some of the world’s best elite athletes in action,” said Sir Phillip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, according to teamusa.org.

In addition to television coverage, the USOC will be streaming the live coverage of all the events online at TeamUSA.com.

For Paralympic skier Heath Calhoun, this is a great way for viewers to see what the Paralympic Games are about.

“I only found out about the Paralympics while I was laying in the hospital bed,” Calhoun said.  “If I were to ask a room full of people if they have ever watched a disabled sport from beginning to end, a quarter of them might raise their hand.”

Calhoun is no stranger to the Winter Paralympic Games, as he competed in

Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games.  After losing both his legs due to injuries in the Iraq War, Calhoun took to the snow and started alpine skiing.

“We’ve only done these Games with nothing to bring home but our own pride. We get to share this with America, and I think that is huge,” Calhoun said. “Seeing companies get behind this and getting it on television, it legitimizes our sport finally.”

 

BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 22 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University.

 

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