Sledge hockey is no easy game and requires a great deal of physicality, toughness (both mental and physical), and upper body strength. Endurance is one of the most key aspects of the game and it is one that players must acquire in order to be successful—just like in any other sport, such as football or soccer.
Showing that needed endurance has been Team USA, which won the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games—a first for the American sledge hockey team. Team USA took a bronze medal in 2006 and then again took the gold in 2010. The U.S. also took the gold athet 2012 International Paralympic Committee Sledge Hockey World Championship in Norway—the first team in the world to ever win back-to-back gold medals in world competition.
One of the most respected sledge hockey players is Steve Cash. He is a goaltender and in 2009 he enabled the U.S. to power its way to its very first international title. That year he started every game and played superbly all the way through, such that the U.S. Olympic Committee saw fit to recognize him as the 2009 Paralympic SportsMan of the Year (Blanchard, 2014). The following year at the 2010 Paralympic Games, Cash managed to not allow a single goal in five games: he blocked every one of the 33 shots that came his way. He took home the “Best Male Athlete with a Disability” ESPY Award that year, and went on to boast a .923 save percentage by 2012 (Blanchard, 2014). Cash has become a legend in sledge hockey for American players.
Canada has its own legends as well. Canadian captain Greg Westlake has had his praises sung by Norwegian defenceman Morten Vaernes, and so to have Billy Bridges (forward) and Brad Bowden (forward). Bowden has been described as “the player with the best understanding of the game, and he has great overall skills. He is always amongst top leaders in goals and assists, great puck and sledge control,” and according to Vaernes (2014), “the best sledge hockey player of all-time.” To have an opponent like Vaernes identify you as the all-time greatest is surely an honor that any sledge hockey player would gladly welcome.
Bowden’s story is worth describing. He was born in 1983 with sacral agenesis, which is a condition that has a lot in common with spina bifida: “He started playing wheelchair basketball in the 1990’s, winning several national Championships, including a Canada Winter Games Championship in 1999. Bowden’s biggest accomplishment in the sport was at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, where Canada were crowned champions. Since retiring from wheelchair basketball in 2008, Bowden turned his full attention to one of his favourite sports growing up – hockey” (Para Ice Hockey, 2017).
Greg Westlake is another: He had his legs amputated when he was just a year-and-a-half old. As the captain of the Canadian sledge team, he has come a long way since then. He began playing sledge hockey in 2001. At the still young age of 17 he was named to the national team in 2003.
Star USA goaltender Steve Cash also is an amputee. Born in 1989, he was diagnosed at just three years of age with bone cancer and as a result had to undergo amputation surgery. Cash did not let that hold him back, however. He found a sport that he could throw himself into it with vigor and at the age of 15 he served as a backup goaltender in the 2006 Games, where his team took home the bronze. The following year, Cash was the team’s go-to goalie and is now considered one of the best in the world.
Reflection on Parasport Sledge Hockey Parasport Sledge Hockey is an increasingly rising and popular sport across the world. Invented in the 1960s in Sweden, it has spread across the globe to be embraced both in the East and in the West. It is played in the Paralympic Winter Games along with apine and cross-country skiing games and wheelchair curling (“No Accidental Champions,” n.d.). Sledge Hockey legends like Billy Bridges have captured
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