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Athletes with inspiring stories make up U.S. sled hockey team

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 9:19am


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PARK CITY — You've heard of skiing, figure skating, and curling, but what about sled hockey?

Competition for the Paralympic sport will take place in February at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

It looks like a lot of fun, but don't be tricked.

"We're out there to put people through the boards and score as many goals as possible," explained Steve Cash, a member of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team.

"You're in a bucket and you're on blades," said teammate Rico Roman. "You're holding your paddle and you're picking as you go across the ice."

Roman is a member of the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team after getting cut from the 2010 Vancouver team.

"It just opened my eyes," he said. "I want to be on this team. I'm going to do whatever it takes. The following year, I made the team. I was the first war wounded veteran to make the U.S. National team."

Roman was injured due to a roadside bomb in Iraq.

"It lifted my Humvee and slammed it on its side, on my driver's side. Right away, my legs felt really heavy. I knew I had injuries to my legs but I didn't want to look down because I was scared to see what might have happened to them," he said.

His injuries were severe. Eventually, Roman decided to have his left leg amputated because of the pain. He then experienced another life-changing moment when someone at a rehab facility suggested he try sled hockey. He had never heard of it.

"The first time on the ice, I was like, so fast. I had all this speed but I had no way to stop this sled," he explained. "I would run into the wall, sticks everywhere, and someone was yelling 'yard sale!'"

Paralympics

The Paralympics take place after the Olympics in Sochi.

Team USA Sled Hockey's biggest rival is Team Canada, just as it is in the Olympics.

More information is available at www.sochi2014.com

He fell in love with the sport. So did goalie Steve Cash, who first tried it when he was 14 years old.

"I lost my leg at the age of 3 to bone cancer," he said.

All paralympic athletes have similar stories of overcoming something many people could never imagine. But instead of indulging in self-pity they moved on, trained hard, and hope to achieve a paralympic victory.

"Hoping to get a gold medal in Russia," Roman said.

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