Meet the winter Paralympic athletes from Minnesota

Curlers compete at the Paralympics
Oyuna Uranchimeg of the U.S. competes against Team Canada in mixed wheelchair curling at the Winter Paralympics on Monday, March 7, 2022 in Beijing.
Zhe Ji | Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee

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.

A skier pushes forward in a race
Max Nelson of Team United States competes in the men's sprint free technique vision impaired qualification at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

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.

Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics - Day 3
Sydney Peterson of Team United States competes in the Para Cross-Country Skiing Women's Long Distance Classical Technique Standing at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre during day three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on March 07, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

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.

An athlete pushes forward with ski poles
Aaron Pike of Team United States competes in the Para Biathlon Men's Middle Distance Sitting during day four of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on March 08, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images

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.

A snowboarder celebrates at the Paralympics
Mike Schultz of the U.S. celebrates after earning the silver medal in the men's snowboard cross competition at the Winter Paralympics on Monday.
Steph Chambers | Getty Images

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.

Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics - Day 3
Batoyun Uranchimeg of Team United States competes against Team Canada in Mixed Wheelchair Curling during Day Three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at the National Aquatics Center on March 07, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Zhe Ji | Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee

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.