This year, top athletes from around the world will meet in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia to compete at the 2015 Winter Deaflympics. The Deaflympics are held every four years, and were first held in Paris in 1924! To compete, athletes have to have a hearing loss of at least 55 db, and no hearing aids or cochlear implants are allowed during the games. This is to place all the players on an even field. And who are some of these players?
Seventeen-year-old Sam Holzrichter is one of the talented athletes that will be competing in the games. He is the assistant captain and left wing for his high school hockey team, the Sioux City Metros, and he was chosen to be on the official U.S. hockey team. Sam has been playing hockey since he was five, and he says he relies on his eyes to compete in the rink: “I keep my head up and see everything that’s in back of me, everything that’s in front of me and everything that’s around me.”
Snowboarder Martin Zagozdzon will also be traveling to Russia. He was chosen to represent Team Canada in the Deaflympics after he impressed the judges at selection camp with his skills in slopestyle and snowboard cross. Martin started snowboarding when he was in third grade, and he hopes his trip to the Deaflympics inspires more people to follow in his footsteps. “I want to represent my country and be a great role model in my community — to encourage deaf children to try snowboarding and perhaps go to the Deaflympics too someday.”
Nicolas Yopp started ski-racing when he was in high school, and was invited to join the U.S. Deaflympics team when he was sixteen. Now twenty-nine years old, Nicolas has competed in the Winter Deaflympics in 2003 and 2007. He also competed in the first World Deaf Ski Championships in Germany in 2013 while still healing from a broken ankle! He’ll be competing again this year in the alpine ski events.
The 18th Winter Deaflympics will take place from March 28 to April 5. For more information, visit the website here!