IDAHO – We are less than a month away from the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games, and when the US Para-Nordic Team recently announced its roster, it included three athletes from Idaho, Josh Sweeney, Dani Aravich and Jake Adicoff with guide Sam Wood.
“It’s so amazing to have qualified for Beijing,” Aravich said. “Especially considering that just six months ago I qualified for my first Paralympic Summer Games in track and field in Tokyo.”
“I’m super excited to be on the team,” Sweeney said. “Honestly, I’m just grateful to have even been in the running, and now being selected to go because I only started skiing a year ago, so it’s even crazy that I’m going. .”
Sweeney won gold in Sochi 2014 with the Team USA sledge hockey team. Now he’s returning to the Games after discovering that Nordic skiing was a sport he wanted to participate in last year.
“It means a lot to be able to come out of the military, to get injured, to not be sure that I can represent my country again, to do it in 2014 on the USA sledge hockey team, and then to honestly think that this wouldn’t happen again,” Sweeney said. “I was working hard, and then I realized this could be turned into a potential opportunity to go to the Games again.”
“For me to represent Team USA is to be able to represent everyone in my community in Idaho, and wearing the United States on my chest while I compete is truly the greatest honor I have. she could have,” Aravich added.
She had a quick turnaround from the Summer Olympics, shifting her training from sprints in track and field to long distances in the snow.
“I had to try to get back into shape quickly for Nordic skiing,” Aravich said. “I ran the four hundred meters in athletics, so a sprint, but now for skiing I’m going to ski up to 15 kilometers so I really had to increase my training load and try to prepare myself in a short time. time. “
The two were in Sun Valley last week training alongside other CAF athletes attending their Nordic ski camp.
The athletes will spend the next two weeks self-isolating and training before heading to China, and while their families won’t be allowed to watch them in person, they will be cheering them on from home alongside the rest of the world. ‘Idaho.
“I gave up a nine-to-five-year corporate career just a few years ago to start training for the track, and it was a very heavy financial burden and a leap of faith,” Aravich said. . “Now to see that I qualified for the Games in a row really makes me feel like it’s been worth it, and my family has been a part of it all.”
“It’s funny because my kids, I think, don’t even realize it, they’re so young that at this point, even if I told them they’d be like, ‘That’s cool for you dad’, but they cheer me on every time I’m here to ski,” Sweeney said. “They’re super excited that I’m here to pursue the things I love to do and they always ask me, ‘Did you win?’ haha.”
The Paralympic Games will begin on Friday March 4 and will be broadcast live on national prime time television for the first time. To watch Idaho athletes compete for gold, click here.