The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will run from March 4-13, and each day, NBCOlympics.com will recap the biggest stories that happened overnight. Here's what you may have missed from the sixth day of Paralympic competition.
Walsh claims first Paralympic medal with giant slalom silver
27-year-old Thomas Walsh, survivor of a rare form of bone cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma, secured the first Alpine skiing medal of his Paralympics career – and the first Alpine medal for Team USA at the 2022 Games – in the men’s giant slalom standing event.
Walsh won the silver medal, finishing just 0.04 seconds behind Finland’s Santeri Kiiveri in the two-run event. Walsh was the first skier down in the opening run and was fastest with a factor time of 57.60 – 0.38 ahead of Kiiveri for first place at the midway point. After losing his lead to Kiiveri midway through the second run, Walsh began making up time in the bottom portion of the course but ran out room before he could get back into green numbers.
"I didn't see the green light which meant gold, but I saw a 0.04, and that was good enough for me to know that I got second," Walsh said. "Through my life experiences, surviving pediatric cancer to dealing with COVID days before I was supposed to be at the Paralympics, I'm just lucky to be able to compete and earning a medal is only a bonus."
Walsh, a native of Vail, Colorado and childhood friend of U.S. Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin, was a gifted youth ski racer growing up until his diagnosis in 2009. Five years later, after watching Shiffrin compete at the Sochi Olympics, Walsh began working toward a return to racing.
Watching from home was another U.S. Olympian, Steven Nyman, who developed a relationship with Walsh while the latter was recovering in the hospital.
Aigner and Pederson ski to more success
16-year-old Johannes Aigner of Austria, skiing with guide Matteo Fleischmann, added to his phenomenal Paralympic debut with a gold medal in the vision impaired class, his fourth medal of the Games thus far. Aigner was second behind Italy’s Giacomo Bertagnolli after the first run but bested his Italian rival by nearly three seconds in the final run to take over the top spot on the podium. Aigner previously won gold in the downhill event.
In the men’s sitting event, Norway’s Jesper Pederson continued his dominant Paralympic Games by adding giant slalom gold to his Beijing collection. Pederson previously took gold in the super-G and super combined events, to go with a silver in the downhill. He was fastest by more than a second in the first run, then quickest again in the final run to win the giant slalom by a combined factor time of 3.30.
U.S. Wheelchair Curling comes up short against Sweden
After a pair of crucial victories on Wednesday to stay alive in the Paralympic wheelchair curling competition, the United States faced its final day of round-robin play needing another two wins to secure a semifinal berth. However, that meant going through top-seeded Sweden in the early game. In a wild, back-and-forth affair, the U.S. came up just short.
The Americans, starting the match with hammer, took an early 2-0 lead after a Sweden miss in the first end. However, in the third, U.S. skip Matthew Thums sailed both of his stones straight through the house, opening the door for Sweden to take a 3-2 lead.
Another pair of misses from Thums in the fourth end gifted Sweden a two-point steal and a 5-2 lead at the break. But one end later, the tables turned completely when Sweden skip Viljo Petersson-Dahl missed both of his shots, allowing the U.S. to score four and retake the lead.
However, after a U.S. steal of one in the sixth, Sweden delivered a masterful end in the seventh to post a score of five, its biggest single-end haul of the tournament. The Swedes successfully protected their 10-7 lead in the eighth and final end, sealing the victory and eliminating the U.S. from medal contention.
In its final game of round-robin play, the U.S. defeated South Korea 7-6 to secure a fifth-place finish and end the tournament on a positive note.
China, Canada, Sweden and Slovakia all advanced to the semifinal round, which begins Friday in Beijing.