Alaska’s Paralympic alpine skiers were both injured in training runs in the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Joe Tompkins, of Juneau, is awaiting surgery in a hospital in Germany, after a crash in a Thursday training run for the men’s sit-ski downhill race.
It was the same training run that took out Andrew Kurka, of Palmer, who broke his back. Kurka has already returned to Alaska. The 21-year-old wrote on Facebook that he was “excited to get the chance to represent” his country. “Perhaps a bit too excited,” he said.
Kurka has been partially paralyzed since he was 13, the result of an accident with a four-wheeler. Tompkins is paralyzed from the waist down due to an automobile crash in 1988.
According to Kurka’s Facebook entries, Tompkins, age 45, broke his femur in the training run.
News reports indicate that warm weather and soft snow at Sochi’s Rosa Khotur Alpine Center resulted in a number of crashes both in training and in the race.
Another U.S. teammate, Tyler Walker, crashed during the Saturday race and was taken off the mountain by helicopter. He is reportedly in stable condition.
Twenty-two competitors were entered in the men’s downhill; nine failed to complete the run.
Japan’s Akira Kano won the gold. Josh Dueck of Canada is the silver medalist and the bronze went to Takeski Suzuki, also of Japan.
The sit-skiers use a molded bucket-style seat on a suspension system and shock absorber mounted to a single ski.
- It aims to preserve Alaska Native culture by giving tribes and tribal organizations the ability to oversee local child welfare problems, rather than social workers coming in from outside their communities. That often results in children being removed from their communities.
- Dressed in full Gwich’in regalia, Potts recounted growing up in a modest dirt-floor hunting cabin in Eagle, losing someone close to suicide, and taking the conventions theme of strength in unity to get back to enjoying life again.
- The Juneau School District wants to consolidate its two high school football programs and cheer squads. Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that the decision to send a formal request to the Alaska School Activities Association has been two years in the making.
- Three helmets, two hats, a headdress and a beaded shirt are from as far back as the 1600s to about 1890. They will be stored through the National Park Service, with access being granted to the Tlingit clans.