Bryan Price, of Belton, will be getting a taste of the Olympics firsthand this year. The 32-year old has been nominated to the United States’ Nordic Skiing team for the Paralympics, which will be held the week after the Winter Olympics.
Price, originally from Leeton, Missouri, still has yet to get his first year of skiing under his belt. He has just started cross-country skiing this season, but he has picked up the sport very quickly so far.
In 2006, Price, a military veteran, was serving in Iraq when he was injured.
“I was hit by a roadside bomb,” he explained.
“In a way, it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Price says that now, with his military retirement, he’s able to spend more time with his daughter and more time to travel, playing sports.
“If I was still in the military I’d be working twelve hours a day,” he continued.
Before the incident in 2006, Price was a competitive runner and he believes the pacing and training skills he picked up then are paying off now – with skiing.
“I’m picking it up fast,” he said.
Last year, one of the American Paralympic scouts was at a veterans’ wheelchair sporting event and spotted Price. “He asked me to come out and try out [skiing],” he explained.
Since then, the Belton resident has put a skiing machine in his garage to prepare for the biggest stage of his life. The machine, explains Price, is much like a fitness rowing machine that is turned around so that the user pulls down.
“It’s perfect for a sit athlete,” he said.
“It’s perfect for us. It’s a great training tool.”
The biggest challenges Price expects are the time change and temperature in Sochi.
“The weather is going to be relatively warm for skiing,” he said.
Price is one of four Americans in the 11.5 Nordic Skiing classification. For the Paralympics, every skier is given a classification of 10, 10.5, 11, 11.5, or 12. The number signifies the seriousness of any given injury (10 being the most serious), allowing judges to rate the athletes’ performances fairly.
For example, a “12” classification means that no time will be taken off the skier’s finishing time, because their injuries allow for an unadjusted time. Because Price is an 11.5 classification, 3% of his time will be taken off of his finish.
The Paralympics will take place March 7-16. For more information, visit sochi2014.com/en/paralympic.