Sports

Alaska winter sports notebook: Kurka named to 3rd USA Paralympic team; Brennan and Earnhart ski to top 10 finishes

For the third Winter Paralympic Games in a row, Palmer’s Andrew Kurka will represent the Last Frontier as a member of Team USA. The official announcement came Feb. 16 and the Games will take place in Beijing from March 4-14.

Kurka will compete in the Paralympic alpine skiing events and has won a gold and a silver medal in the Paralympics.

An ATV accident in which the former state champion wrestler suffered severe damage to three vertebrae in his spinal cord didn’t dash his dreams of becoming an Olympian. He went from dominating on the mat to doing the same on the slopes as a skier, and he has amassed five medal finishes in his career between the Paralympics and World Championships.

Brennan returns to action in Finland

In her first competition since returning from the Winter Olympics, where she placed sixth in the women’s 30K freestyle and fourth in the freestyle sprint, APU’s Rosie Brennan had a strong showing at the FIS Cross Country World Cup 10K classic in Lahti, Finland, on Sunday. She came in eighth place and was 62 seconds off the winning time of 24 minutes, 28 seconds by Therese Johaug of Norway. Brennan did lead the pack of U.S. athletes, finishing ahead of the other four members of Davis U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athletes.

“I felt much more like myself and was able to ski the way I wanted to,” Brennan said. “Lahti has been a tough venue for me in the past and today I really felt strong in my classic skiing and had some ability to push hard. I was definitely frustrated after yesterday and am really happy I was able to let it go and find myself out there today. We have really great weather this weekend and a big crowd so that was a huge bonus. It was a joy to not be skiing in an arctic tornado.”

[Rosie Brennan didn’t take home medals from Beijing. She still changed US cross-country skiing.]

Michael Earnhart shines at Junior & U23 World Championships

Brennan wasn’t the only representative from the APU Nordic Ski Center to have a strong showing against some of the best competition from across the globe in a European race. Eagle River’s Michael Earnhart followed up a 10th-place finish in the men’s 30K by helping the the U.S. relay team earn a bronze medal at the 2022 Junior World Championships in Lygna, Norway, last week.

“Last year was my first (World Juniors) but this year is the first year I felt like I had a chance to get top 10 and everything, last year I was like ‘Well I’ll be happy if I get top 30,′ ” Earnhart told FasterSkier.com.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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