NPR logo

Veteran Who Lost His Legs Takes Bronze In Biathlon

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124784758/124784706" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Veteran Who Lost His Legs Takes Bronze In Biathlon

Sports

Veteran Who Lost His Legs Takes Bronze In Biathlon

Veteran Who Lost His Legs Takes Bronze In Biathlon

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124784758/124784706" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
U.S. biathlete Andy Soule i

Andy Soule won the bronze medal in the 2.4 km pursuit sitting biathlon at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics. He's the first U.S. athlete ever to win an Olympic or Paralympic medal in biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Hannah Johnston/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
U.S. biathlete Andy Soule

Andy Soule won the bronze medal in the 2.4 km pursuit sitting biathlon at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics. He's the first U.S. athlete ever to win an Olympic or Paralympic medal in biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

In Vancouver, the Olympics are over, but the Paralympics for disabled athletes are in full swing, with events including wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey.

Over the weekend, Andy Soule became the first U.S. athlete ever to win an Olympic or Paralympic medal in biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. He took bronze in the 2.4 kilometer pursuit sitting biathlon.

In sitting biathlon, skiers use a sit-ski, or a seat attached to a pair of skis, and they pole their way around the course, which Soule says is technically easier to learn than standing cross-country but takes more endurance.

"We use the double-pull technique the whole time, which in cross-country skiing is a high-speed, high-gear type of technique," he tells NPR's Melissa Block. "So climbing hills can be exhausting."

Originally from Houston, Soule was deployed in Afghanistan in 2005 when a roadside bomb exploded next to his Humvee. Both of his legs were amputated above the knee.

Soule says he never skied much before his accident, but he met Marc Mast when he was doing a long-distance bike race on a hand-cycle in Texas. Mast runs a program called the Wood River Ability Program in Sun Valley, Idaho. After seeing Soule's abilities, Mast invited him up to the development camp he runs for the adaptive ski team in February 2006.

Soule says he trains five to six days a week on skis and he's in the weight room twice a day. He says his training as a soldier has helped him become a Paralympian. "It's helped me definitely with having the discipline to go out every day and train even when I don't want to — focus and drive," he says. "I look back to my experiences in the Army, and this is — sort of, in a way — a way to continue that."

He says it gives him something to strive for physically and it gives him something to focus on that's difficult.

The Paralympics began after World War II as rehab for injured veterans. Soule is one of five of disabled veterans on the 52-member team. He says the veterans aren't set apart — but they are carrying on a legacy.

"I think that, in a way, everyone here on the Paralympic team has their own unique story and their own unique way that they came to this," he says.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.