The US yesterday beat Canada with a dramatic overtime goal to win sledge hockey gold in Pyeongchang, a fitting finale to high-octane sporting action at the Winter Paralympics in South Korea.
The curtain fell on the Paralympics at a closing ceremony last night, capping the nine-day Games that have featured sports ranging from vision-impaired skiing to wheelchair curling.
The US topped the medals table, with a total of 36 medals, including 13 golds.
Canada also did well, picking up eight golds while France and Germany won seven each.
The Winter Paralympics broke records with ticket sales topping 340,000. Its other standout moments ranged from North Korea’s debut to the many tales of disabled athletes fighting against the odds for sporting glory.
The sledge hockey final was the most hotly anticipated showdown of the Games, as defending Paralympic champions the US took on reigning world champions Canada.
In the sport, athletes with leg impairments are strapped into sledges and use two sticks to get around the rink and shoot.
Canada dominated in the early stages of the game. Billy Bridges scored in the first period and it looked like the Canadians were heading for gold as the US were unable to break through their defenses.
However, with just 37 seconds left on the clock, the US’ Declan Farmer scored to send the match into overtime. Three minutes into extra time, Farmer sliced the puck between two defenders and into the net to carry the US to a 2-1 victory.
It was the US’ third straight ice hockey gold at a Paralympics, and fourth title overall.
“It’s an absolutely unbelievable feeling to rally from down one to winning in overtime,” captain Josh Pauls said.
Medals were also awarded in several categories of alpine skiing, with Britain, France and Germany winning gold and cross-country skiing where Ukraine and France picked up gold.
North Korea was also in focus at the Paralympics, with Pyongyang sending two sit-skiers to the Games — part of a major rapprochement that started at last month’s Winter Olympics.
The athletes, Mu Yu-chol and Kim Jong-hyon, only began skiing three months ago and finished at or near the back of their two events, but were nevertheless welcomed by cheering South Korean fans.
However, the North’s presence at the Paralympics was low-key — the two Koreas did not march together at the opening ceremony, as they did at the Olympics last month, and the North’s athletes and their delegation left before the end of the Paralympics yesterday.
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