Meet the winter Paralympic athletes from Minnesota
With five athletes covering three different sports at the Beijing Winter Paralympics, Minnesota has already claimed three medals at the Games so far.
This year, three Minnesotans are competing in Nordic or cross country skiing events, while one competes in snowboarding, and another is a part of a wheelchair curling team.
Max Nelson, cross-country skiing
Max Nelson, 17, was born in St. Paul and calls Grant his hometown. This is his first Paralympic competition. Competing in the visual impaired free sprint cross-country, he’s also the youngest member of the U.S. Nordic Skiing team at the games, according to KSTP.
On March 9, Nelson finished 14th in the qualifying race. He’s also set to compete in the 12.5-kilometer race on March 12, and possibly be a part of the March 13 relay race.
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Nelson has also set his sights on returning to the Paralympic games in 2026.
Sydney Peterson, cross country skiing
This is Peterson’s first Paralympic competition, but she has already claimed two medals at the games. She took home a silver in the women’s 15 km race and finished with a bronze medal in the sprint standing competition. Peterson finished the race with a time of 4:12.1, finishing behind first-place Canadian Natalie Wilkie by only seven seconds.
Peterson is 19 and lists Lake Elmo as her hometown. She first began cross-country skiing with the St. Croix Valley ski club. In seventh grade, she joined the high school ski team at Stillwater Area High School. She was 13 when she developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy and dystonia in her left arm, and she decided to branch out and try Para cross-country skiing.
While it is her first Paralympic competition, she’s not a stranger to the international competitive scene. She took home two silver medals and a bronze in the World Championship in 2021.
Aaron Pike, cross country and biathlon
Aaron Pike, 35, is from Park Rapids, and is a veteran of the Paralympic competitions. He is a six-time Paralympian from 2012 to 2022, competing in both the winter and summer games. During the summer games, he’s competed in marathon and long distance races.
At the Beijing winter games, Pike will compete in the individual sitting biathlon and took 15th place in the middle distance biathlon, and 8th in the sprint biathlon, along with competing in the men’s sitting sprint cross country race. According to the Star Tribune’s Rachel Blount, Pike’s performance Wednesday was the best of three Americans in the race.
Mike Shultz, snowboarding
St. Cloud’s Mike Schultz, 40, has already claimed a silver medal at the Beijing Paralympic Games in the snowboard cross on Monday. Schultz also won a gold and silver medal four years ago at the PyeongChang games.
Schultz is set to compete again Thursday in the banked slalom, another event that he has medaled in before. He has a Paralympic silver and World championship silver from 2021 and 2017 in the event.
Besides being a world-class athlete, he has also worked to improve on prosthetics for athletes, forming his own company, BioDapt, after a snowmobiling crash in 2008 resulted in an above-the-knee amputation of his left leg.
Batoyun ‘Oyuna’ Uranchimeg, wheelchair curling
Batoyun ‘Oyuna’ Uranchimeg, 48, originally from Mongolia, but now lives in St. Paul, is part of the U.S. mixed wheelchair curling teammate that took 5th in the Beijing Paralympic games.
About 22 years ago, while visiting a friend in the U.S., she was involved in a car crash that paralyzed her from the waist down, preventing her return. Her injury also kept her away from her then 6-year-old son, who couldn’t come to Minnesota until she became a U.S. citizen eight years later, according to the Team USA’s website.
Uranchimeg, has been involved in curling in the last six years, when a friend invited her to “lunch” at the Four Seasons Curling Club in Blaine. She debuted in the world championships in 2021, helping the team place fourth. She threw lead for the team during the competition.