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KURKA Andrew Earl
Sport Para alpine skiing
NPC United States   
GenderMen
Age27
Place of BirthHomer, AK, USA
Height1.75 m
Weight 68 kg
Human Interest
Impairment Information
Type of Impairment
Spinal Cord Injuries
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
LW12-1
Further Personal Information
Residence
Aspen, CO, USA
Occupation
Athlete, Coach, Media Professional - Radio
Languages
English, German
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport?
He began skiing in 2008 at age 15 in Alaska, United States of America.
Why this sport?
His physical therapist Anne Thomas took him to his first monoski lesson. "It was a independent individual sport that my fearless attitude was able to naturally excel at."
Club / Team
Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club: United States
Name of coach
Ben Black [national]
Senior International Debut
Year
2012
Competing for
United States
Location
Winter Park, CO, USA
General Interest
Hobbies
Fishing, cycling, hunting, cooking, spending time with family, wrestling, American football, bodybuilding. (Facebook profile, 19 Sep 2017; Facebook page, 18 Sep 2017; paralympic.org, 31 Jan 2017)
Memorable sporting achievement
Being the first monoskier to ski the Christmas Chute in Alaska, United States of America. (IPC, 10 Feb 2018)
Hero / Idol
US Para alpine skiers Chris Devlin-Young and Tyler Walker. (adaptivespirit.org, 27 May 2012)
Injuries
A broken thigh bone prevented him from competing at the 2015 Winter X Games in Aspen, CO, United States of America. (teamusa.org, 08 Mar 2017; paralympic.org, 27 Dec 2015)

He broke his back during his first training run at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, and was unable to compete at the Games. (ktuu.com, 09 Mar 2014)

He broke his back on a practice run ahead of the 2011 Winter X Games in Aspen. He required six months of rehabilitation. (radiofreepalmer.org, 20 Aug 2012; anchoragepress.com, 03 Nov 2011)

He underwent shoulder surgery in 2010. (IPC, 10 Feb 2018)

He broke his right ankle during the downhill event of the 2009 National Championships in Great Sky, MT, United States of America. (anchoragepress.com, 03 Nov 2011)

He suffered a broken back in 2005. (IPC, 10 Feb 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Life's short, live it fast." (IPC, 10 Feb 2018)
Awards and honours
He was named 2018 Adaptive Athlete of the Year by the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail, CO, United States of America. (vaildaily.com, 22 Sep 2018)

He was shortlisted in the Best Male Athlete with Disability category of the 2018 Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly [ESPY] Awards in the United States of America. (paralympic.org, 22 Jun 2018)
Other sports
He had ambitions to compete at an Olympic Games in Greco-Roman wrestling before his accident. One year after breaking his back, he won a sixth Alaska state championship by beating able-bodied opponents. (radiofreepalmer.org, 20 Aug 2012; dsusa.org, 30 Dec 2010)
Ambitions
To win a gold medal at the 2019 World Championships in Slovenia and Italy, and to compete at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. (teamusa.org, 18 Jan 2019; ktuu.com, 18 Apr 2018)
Impairment
He broke his back at age 13 in a four-wheel motorbike accident in Alaska, United States of America. He damaged three vertebrae in his spinal cord, resulting in partial paraplegia. "I was going out fishing, flipped the four-wheeler which landed on me, and broke my back. I completely lost the feeling and movement in the lower half of my body. It took about six months of hard work to get any sensation back, and then I got a little feeling and a little movement and started being able to get around in leg braces." (IPC, 10 Feb 2018; radiofreepalmer.org, 17 Aug 2012; anchoragepress.com, 03 Nov 2011; dsusa.org, 30 Dec 2010)
Other information
PRESSURE OFF
After sustaining several injuries throughout his career he says winning three medals at the 2017 World Championships in Tarvisio, Italy, took some pressure off him. “Winning at the world championships came at a great time. It was the moment where I realised I could do this. That confidence really helped boost me. Starting my career I'd broken a bone almost every season since I started racing and that was the first year I really focused on staying consistent. It helped me to realise that a lot of what I do here in this sport is not necessarily all about getting a gold medal and winning. A lot of times it's about the journey, and being a little better tomorrow than you were yesterday.” (teamusa.org, 18 Jan 2019)

DETERMINATION
After being told by a doctor that there would be limits to what he could do following his accident, he was determined to prove him wrong. "I told him I'd walk into his office one day and do a somersault, and he said that I wasn't being realistic. Well, that's someone telling me I can't do something, so three months later, I stood up in his office, took off my leg braces, and did a full somersault. It wasn't pretty, but I did it." (anchoragepress.com, 03 Nov 2011)

FUTURE PLANS
He wants to open a bed and breakfast lodging in Alaska, United States of America, as well as a place to host and inspire kids with impairments. (IPC, 10 Feb 2018; teamusa.org, 08 Mar 2017; ktuu.com, 18 Apr 2018)

OCCUPATION
He has worked as a radio DJ and host for Classic Country 100.9, a radio station in Wasilla, AK, United States of America. (Facebook profile, 19 Sep 2017)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
He volunteers as an athlete mentor for Classroom Champions, a non-profit organisation in the United States of America that supports students from underserved communities. (teamusa.org, 07 Mar 2018)

Competition Highlights (historical)
Paralympic Games
Rank Year Event Result
1 2018 Downhill - Sitting 1:24.11
2 2018 Super-G - Sitting 1:26.89
7 2018 Super Combined - Sitting 2:17.73
  2018 Giant Slalom - Sitting  DNF
World Championships
Rank Year Event Result
  2012/2013 Downhill - Sitting  DNF
25 2012/2013 Super-G - Sitting 1:22.33
  2012/2013 Slalom - Sitting  DNF
  2012/2013 Super Combined - Sitting  DNF
  2012/2013 Giant Slalom - Sitting  DNF
6 2014/2015 Downhill - Sitting 1:30.78
3 2014/2015 Super-G - Sitting 1:21.32
  2014/2015 Giant Slalom - Sitting DNF
1 2016/2017 Downhill - Sitting 1:11.55
3 2016/2017 Super-G - Sitting 1:05.08
  2016/2017 Super Combined - Sitting  DNF
2 2016/2017 Giant Slalom - Sitting 2:17.32
  2016/2017 Slalom - Sitting  DNF
6 2018/2019 Giant Slalom - Sitting 2:17.18
  2018/2019 Slalom - Sitting  DNF
  2018/2019 Downhill - Sitting  DNF
  2018/2019 Super Combined - Sitting  DNF
  2018/2019 Super-G - Sitting  DNF
World Cup Final
Rank Year Event Result
1 2015/2016 Giant Slalom - Sitting 1:41.53
  2015/2016 Giant Slalom - Sitting  DNF
9 2015/2016 Slalom - Sitting 1:21.76
4 2015/2016 Downhill - Sitting 1:14.85
  2015/2016 Downhill - Sitting  DNF
2 2015/2016 Super-G - Sitting 1:20.57
  2015/2016 Super-G - Sitting  DNF
  2016/2017 Downhill - Sitting  DNF
1 2016/2017 Super-G - Sitting 1:28.77
3 2016/2017 Super-G - Sitting 1:27.83
  2016/2017 Giant Slalom - Sitting  DNF
1 2017/2018 Downhill - Sitting 1:14.74
3 2017/2018 Downhill - Sitting 1:14.28
1 2017/2018 Super-G - Sitting 1:18.94
6 2017/2018 Super-G - Sitting 1:19.88
  2018/2019 Slalom - Sitting  DNS
  2018/2019 Slalom - Sitting  DNS