Heath Calhoun: Profile of US Skiing Paralympian for Sochi 2014

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

United States Olympic Winter Games Para-skier Heath Calhoun poses for a portrait at the 2013 Team USA Media Summit on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 in Park City, UT. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)
Carlo Allegri/Associated Press

Crash Course: Heath Calhoun lost both of his legs while he was deployed as a squad leader for the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq in 2003. Calhoun was in a Humvee and the vehicle was destroyed when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Calhoun learned of the Wounded Warrior Project, which finds programs for injured servicemen. That's where he learned about adaptive skiing, which became his sport of choice, and he will compete in Sochi.

Athletic Profile: Calhoun, 34, has excelled in adaptive skiing and has been picking up honors since 2008. He competed in the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in 2013 and finished in fifth place in slalom and sixth place in the super combined. He earned a second-place finish in the downhill at the Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Championships in 2012. Calhoun participated in the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, finishing eighth in the super-G and 10th in the super combined.

The Teacher: Calhoun is not just a competitor. He also teaches skiing to other handicapped people as part of the Challenge Aspen program in Snowmass, Colo. He is a certified mono-ski instructor. A mono-ski is a chair-like device with a shock absorber that mimics the body position of a standing skier. The mono-ski weighs less than 30 pounds and Calhoun has reached speeds of 70 miles per hour.


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Quite the athlete: Heath was out of his wheelchair by 2005 and he has not gotten back in one since. He has two prosthetic legs that feature microprocessor-controlled hydraulics, and he competes in running, swimming, golf and hiking when he is not skiing.

Social Media: Calhoun's life was featured in a documentary short film called The Fall Line that was directed by Tyler Stableford in 2010.  Calhoun has a Facebook page and has received more than 2,700 likes.

Quote: "It’s a challenge to try to prepare. I just try to forget about that and enjoy what I’m doing on race day. I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t fun” Heath Calhoun said, on his desire to compete in athletics.