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Andrew Kurka’s Paralympic medals just became a lot more valuable

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: September 22, 2018
  • Published September 21, 2018

Andrew Kurka shows his gold and silver medals from the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea at Goose Lake Park on June 28. Kurka won the gold in the Downhill and the Silver in the Super-G. Kurka was at the park to participate in the bike ride with Challenge Alaska. (Bob Hallinen / ADN archive)

Two-time Paralympic medalist Andrew Kurka of Anchorage just got a big retroactive pay raise.

The U.S. Olympic Committee on Friday voted to raise the payments to Paralympic medal-winners so the rewards match those given to Olympic medal-winners. The decision will apply retroactively to this year's Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

For Kurka, a sit-skier who won gold and silver in March, that means an extra $47,250 in prize money.

Prior to Friday's decision, Americans who won Paralympic medals received $7,500 for gold, $5,250 for silver and $3,750 for bronze.

Now they'll be rewarded at the same level as Olympic athletes — $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.

Before the change, Kurka's two medals — gold in the downhill, silver in the super-G — were worth $12,750. Now they're worth $60,000, an increase of $47,250.

"Our financial investment in U.S. Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in our funding model that we felt needed to change," USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a press release from the USOC.

Kurka's medals were among 36 earned by Americans in Pyeongchang. According to the USOC, Friday's decision means more than $1.2 million will be distributed to medal winners.

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