IDAHO — We are less than a month away from the 2022 Beijing Paralympic games, and when the U. S. Para Nordic Team recently announced their roster it included three Idaho athletes, Josh Sweeney, Dani Aravich, and Jake Adicoff with guide Sam Wood.
"It feels so amazing to have qualified for Beijing," Aravich said. "Especially considering just six months ago I qualified for my first summer Paralympic Games in track and field in Tokyo."
"I’m super excited to be on the team," Sweeney said. "Honestly I'm just grateful that I was even in the running, and now being selected to go because I only started skiing a year ago, so it is even crazy that I am even going."
Sweeney won gold at Sochi in 2014 with Team USA's Sled Hockey Team. Now, he's heading back to the Games after discovering Nordic skiing is a sport he wanted to compete at last year.
"It means a lot being able to go from the military, getting injured, not being sure if I would be able to represent my country again, to doing it in 2014 on team USA for sled hockey, and then honestly thinking it wouldn’t happen again," Sweeney said. "I was just working hard and then realized it could be turned into a potential opportunity to go to the Games again."
"For me representing Team USA is being able to represent everyone back home from my community in Idaho, and getting to wear USA across my chest while I compete is really the greatest honor that she could ever have," Aravich added.
She had a quick turnaround from the Summer Olympic Games, switching her training from sprints in track and field, to long distances in the snow.
"I had to quickly try to get back into shape for Nordic skiing," Aravich said. "I ran the four hundred meters in track and field, so a sprint, but now for skiing, I will ski up to 15 kilometers so I have really had to increase my training load and try to get ready in a short amount of time."
The two were in Sun Valley this past week training alongside other CAF athletes attending their Nordic Skiing camp.
The athletes will spend the next couple of weeks isolating and training before they head to China, and although their families won't be allowed to watch them in person, they'll be cheering them on from home alongside the rest of Idaho.
"I gave up a corporate nine to five career just a few years ago to start training for track, and it was a really hard financial burden, and a leap of faith," Aravich said. "Now to see that I qualified for the Games back to back really makes me feel like it's all worth it, and my family has been a part of it the entire way."
"It’s funny because my kids I don’t think even realize it, they're so young that at this point even if I told them they would be like, 'Cool good for you Dad,' but they do cheer for me every time I am out here skiing," Sweeney said. "They are super excited for me to be out here pursuing the things that I love doing and they're always asking me, ‘Did you win?' haha."
The Paralympic Games start Fri., March 4, and will be broadcasted live on National TV in primetime for the first time. To watch the Idaho athletes compete for gold, click here.