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Paralympics star from Palmer named to U.S. National Team

Already a rising star in American skiing, Andrew Kurka of Palmer now has his sights on something bigger. “I have my eye on the World Cup this year,” Kurka said.

The 19-year-old will get that chance after he was named to the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Team for the 2013-14 season, which begins Aug. 22 with the World Cup opener in New Zealand.

Kurka, who has competed for Challenge Alaska, is the only Alaskan on the national team. “It’s a huge honor,” he said. “Alaska’s the little piece of America and it’s my dream to represent. I’m hoping to one day only be sponsored by Alaska-based businesses.”

Kurka last year competed in several marquee events and he “managed to place rather high in a few national competitions pretty consistently,” he said.

There’s not much this kid can’t do.

He’s an accomplished weightlifter, winning a title at age 17. And in April, he won a race among adaptive skiers at Arctic Man, the annual ski-and-snowmachine race in the Hoodoo Mountains.

Now he’s a member of the U.S. National Team.

“I have been increasing my performance the last few years and had a very successful beginning of my last season,” Kurka said. “I want to make myself known on the World Cup and Europa Cup circuits. Hoping to make an impact and help some beginner skier as well. I’m looking forward to skiing with the next generation.”

Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, writes about the athletic exploits of Alaskans for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at alaskasportshall@yahoo.com.