SNOWBOARDING: Evan Strong in search of gold at 2018 Paralympics
When snowboard cross made its Paralympic debut at the 2014 Games in Russia, Evan Strong put on a show.
The 31-year-old Nevada City resident shredded down the tricky course and claimed the gold medal by a slim margin.
Four year later, he’s in search of more.
Strong, who lost his left leg a few inches below the knee at the age of 17 when he was struck by an SUV while riding a motorcycle in Hawaii, is once again representing Team USA and will compete in a pair of events at the 2018 Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Just been going full tilt,” he said of his preparation for the Games during a January interview. “Getting the equipment fast as possible. Getting strong, explosive and resilient as possible. The stakes are higher than ever in adaptive snowboard cross and I’m just trying to rise to the occasion and defend my title.”
Strong is scheduled to race in his signature event, snowboard cross, Monday as well as the banked slalom event March 16. He expects the competition to be even tougher than it was in 2014.
“The competition is more exciting than ever,” he said. “There are 10 other guys in my (snowboard cross) division that could win that Paralympic gold medal on any given day, so the competition is more exciting than ever. We’re at the top of our games and excited to put on a show in Pyeongchang.”
Strong, along with teammates Michael Shea (silver) and Keith Gabel (bronze), swept the snowboard cross podium in 2014. Shea and Gabel are back again as well as several other strong competitors.
Competing in the banked slalom event will be a first for Strong at the Paralympics, but since 2014 he has proven to be a force in the event and is currently ranked sixth in the world, according to the most recent World Para Snowboard Rankings.
Strong will also have an extra fan rooting for him at these Paralympics as he has ventured into fatherhood since the 2014 Games.
“Since the last Games, I had a little girl. It’s been the most awesome journey of my life, becoming a father. She’s just such a blast. We have so much fun. We go to the skate park, I have already taken her snowboarding with me, we go camping and she’s been surfing with me in Maui. We just have a blast and play.”
The 2018 Paralympics had its opening ceremony Friday and will run through March 18. The Games can be viewed on NBC’s various affiliated channels and the NBC Olympics streaming service.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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