Before local snowboarder Evan Strong headed to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Paralympics, he said to win gold he would need to have all his ducks in a row and they would all have to be wearing gold medals.
After Friday’s para snowboard cross event at the Rosa Khutor resort in the mountains above Sochi, Strong is the one wearing gold.
Strong recorded the fastest time of the day on the snowboard cross course, clocking in at 51.62 seconds and collecting the first gold medal of the Sochi 2014 Paralympics for the U.S.
“Today is a dream. I’m ecstatic, I’m over the moon,” Strong said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I don’t even feel like my feet are on the ground right now. Today this course is super fun, you can generate lots of speed but it was super challenging and very stressful.”
Strong headlined an all U.S. podium in the competition, which debuted in this year’s Paralympics.
Mike Shea, Strong’s training partner, took silver and Keith Gabel won Bronze.
“We are all best friends and to be involved in it and then to get a gold medal in the end is great,” said Strong.
Strong, 27, lost his left leg below the knee in auto accident in 2004.
“After my accident and losing my leg, snowboarding gave much more to me than just sport or racing,” Strong said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It gave me my life back. To see how far para snowboarding has come in such a short time makes me so proud.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.