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2022 Winter Paralympics: Idaho athletes make history

The Paralympics took place Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 13. Sun Valley's Jake Adicoff brings home one gold and two silver medals!

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: The video posted above originally aired February 5, 2022. It features two Paralympic Nordic skiers, Dani Aravich and Josh Sweeney, the weekend of the Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour near Ketchum.

A rare summer-winter double Paralympics effort and a three-medal showing for an American in Nordic skiing are two accomplishments for Idaho athletes at the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, China, which concluded Sunday, March 13. 

The Opening Ceremony took place at 4:30 a.m. Friday, March 4. It was televised live on USA. Watch video of Team USA on parade in the ceremony. Also, during the ceremony, the International Paralympic Committee president delivered a speech that included a call for peace. Athletes from Ukraine also carried a message of peace, as war with Russia was breaking out in their home country.

As the Games got underway, Idahoans had plenty to cheer for, with four Paralympians who've called the Gem State home.

Dani Aravich

Credit: U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee teamusa.org

Dani Aravich, 25, competes in Nordic skiing. Her results at the Beijing Paralympics include a 9th-place finish in the middle-distance cross-country freestyle race on Friday, March 11. Aravich also raced in the cross-country sprint freestyle Tuesday, March 8. She placed eighth in qualification, and advanced to the semifinals. She finished fourth in her semifinal heat and placed 8th overall in the sprint freestyle event. Aravich placed 11th in the middle-distance biathlon and 13th in the sprint biathlon.  

Beijing 2022 was Aravich's second Paralympics. She competed in the 400-meter run in 2021 at the COVID-postponed 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. While Aravich was training for Tokyo in 2019, a U.S. Paralympic Nordic Ski coach invited her to a training camp.

Aravich is a native of Eagle and graduated from Bishop Kelly High School in Boise in 2014. She was born without her left hand and forearm, and her Paralympics classification is T47. In high school and in college at Butler University, Aravich participated in cross-country running and track and field. As she became active in the adaptive sports community and trained for the Paralympics, Aravich also volunteered as a limb-different coach.

Aravich's competitive Nordic skiing experience includes an 8th-place finish in the 10K cross-country classic race and individual biathlon at the 2021 World Championships.

Even before her first race at the Beijing Paralympics, Aravich was in the national spotlight as one of NBC's "U.S. athletes to watch at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games." She's also one of the athletes NBC invited to complete a questionnaire about their lives on and off the snow and ice. Here's what Dani had to say.

Jake Adicoff

Credit: AP/Shuji Kajiyama
Brian McKeever, second left, of Canada, with guide Russell Kennedy and Jake Adicoff right, of the U.S. with guide Sam Wood, compete the men's sprint freestyle vision impaired final of cross-country skiing at the 2022 Winter Paralympics, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China. McKeever won the race. Adicoff took silver. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

Jake Adicoff, from Sun Valley, competed in his third Winter Paralympics in Nordic skiing events. As an athlete with a visual impairment, he skied with a guide: Sam Wood.

Adicoff and Wood won three medals at the Beijing Games, including gold as part of the U.S. 4x2.5-kilometer mixed-relay team, with teammates Oksana Masters, Sydney Peterson and Dan Cnossen. This was the first mixed-relay gold for Team USA. Adicoff and Wood clinched the victory for the U.S.A. in the final lap of the relay, when they rocketed from fourth position to first. Watch the video here.

Adicoff and Wood won silver on Saturday, March 5, in the men's long-distance vision-impaired classic cross-country ski race, and on Tuesday, March 8, in the men's vision-impaired freestyle sprint. They finished the long-distance with a time of 58 minutes, 54.4 seconds, and the sprint in a time of 3:20.3. Brian McKeever of Canada won gold in both events. (Watch video from the long-distance race here). Here's video of NBC's interview with Adicoff and Wood after they took silver in the long-distance race. During that interview, Adicoff got the chance to speak with his parents, who were watching from Ketchum.

Adicoff also won silver in the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympics, in the 10K classic cross-country ski race, with his guide at the time, Sawyer Kesselheim. Adicoff placed fourth in the 1.5K sprint and fifth in the 20K freestyle cross-country events in Pyeongchang. Four years earlier, he had top-10 finishes in several events at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.

More recently, in the 2021 World Championships, Adicoff won gold in middle-distance cross-country skiing, silver in sprint, and bronze in long-distance.

Adicoff is 26 years old. He graduated from Wood River High School in 2013, and went on to Bowdoin College in Maine, where he graduated in math and computer science in 2018. 

A case of chicken pox when he was still in the womb left Adicoff legally blind. He has been a cross-country skier since he was in second grade, when he was introduced to the sport through the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation's Junior Nordic Development team.

Jesse Keefe

Jesse Keefe, from Bellevue, is a 17-year-old student at Sun Valley Community School. Keefe turns 18 in late March. Beijing 2022 is his first Paralympics. 

Keefe placed 15th in the giant slalom on March 9. He also placed 15th in the super combined and 22nd in the downhill earlier during the Games. The slalom is scheduled for Friday, March 11.

Keefe was born without an ankle bone in his right leg, and he had his right foot amputated when he was 11 months old. He has been on skis since he was two years old, and joined the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation race team at the age of seven.

Keefe is the 2021 U.S. champion in the giant slalom and slalom, LW4 (standing) classification. At the 2021 World Championships, he placed 19th in the super-G, 22nd in the downhill, 23rd in the super combined, and 26th in the giant slalom.

RELATED: Sun Valley's Jesse Keefe named to U.S. Paralympic Team

Josh Sweeney

Credit: KTVB

Josh Sweeney, a 34-year-old Boise resident, is in his second Paralympics. However, Beijing is the first in which he's competing in Nordic skiing. So far, he has placed 16th in the men's long-distance cross-country ski race (sitting), and competed in the cross-country sprint Tuesday night. Sweeney placed 19th in the qualification round of Tuesday's sprint, and did not advance to the semifinals.

Sweeney won gold in 2014 as a member of the U.S. sled hockey team.

"I'm super excited to be able to go back and represent my country, that was always the biggest part of me going to the games in the first place," Sweeney said during an interview with KTVB on February 5, after skiing in the Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour near Ketchum.

Sweeney is originally from Arizona. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and a recipient of the Purple Heart. In October 2009, while on duty in Nawzad, Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device. As a result, both of his legs were amputated above the knee and he suffered serious injuries to his left arm. 

A hockey player in high school, Sweeney got into sled hockey during his rehabilitation and played on the San Antonio Rampage, a team made up entirely of injured military athletes. Among Sweeney's San Antonio teammates was Rico Roman, a member of the U.S. sled hockey team for this year's Paralympics.

Paralympics closing weekend livestream schedule

All times are Mountain. Individual event streams listed in regular type. Livestreams of NBC, USA Network and Olympic Channel telecasts are listed in bold. All events stream live on Peacock and the NBC Olympics website.

Friday NBC Primetime Paralympics Coverage: Airs at 7 p.m. on KTVB; livestream available at 6 p.m.

7:30 p.m. Friday: Para Alpine Skiing - Women's slalom first runs

8:45 p.m. Friday: Para Alpine Skiing - Women's slalom final runs

9 p.m. Friday to 12 a.m. Saturday: Winter Paralympics coverage on USA

9:25 p.m. Friday: Para Cross-Country Skiing - Women's 7.5km and men's 10km sitting

12 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Saturday: Winter Paralympics coverage on USA

10 a.m. Saturday: NBC Daytime Paralympics Coverage (also airs on KTVB at this time)

5:30 p.m. Saturday: Para Alpine Skiing - Men's slalom first runs

6 p.m. Saturday: NBC Primetime Paralympics Coverage

7 p.m. Saturday: Para Cross Country Skiing - 4x2.5km mixed relay

7 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday: Winter Paralympics coverage on USA

8:45 p.m. Saturday: Sled Hockey - Gold medal game: USA vs. Canada (also televised on USA Network)

9:30 p.m. Saturday: Para Alpine skiing - Men's slalom final runs

1 a.m. to 4 a.m. Sunday: Winter Paralympics coverage on USA

5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday: Closing Ceremony on USA

10 a.m. Sunday: NBC Daytime Paralympics coverage

More to come

Check back here often through the Paralympics for updates on event scheduling, results and more as we follow our Idaho athletes' accomplishments on the world stage.

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