Paralympic Winter Games
7-16 March

No. 16: USA v Russia live on NBC

The decision by one of the US’s biggest broadcasters to show the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games ice sledge hockey final between Russia and USA marked a watershed moment in the history of the Paralympic Movement. 07 Sep 2014
Four sledge hockey player on the ice, posing for a camera with their gold medals

Team USA celebrates after winning the ice sledge hockey final of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games


In the game itself, Josh Sweeney’s second period goal was the difference as the USA became the first-ever nation to win back-to-back Paralympic gold medals.

Whilst the network had previously shown highlights of summer and winter Games, they had shown very little live coverage.

At Sochi 2014, that all changed.

After showing live coverage on NBC Sports Network throughout the Games, NBC showed Paralympic sport live for the first time ever when it showed the gold medal ice sledge hockey match between USA and Russia.

In the game itself, Josh Sweeney’s second period goal was the difference as the USA became the first-ever nation to win back-to-back Paralympic gold medals.

With just one goal, Sweeney turned from war hero to Paralympic hero. In 2009, Sweeney stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan as a member of the US Marine Corps, losing both of his legs.

In 2014, he led a Paralympic gold-medal winning team as an assistant captain.

“I saw the defender, and he had the puck and I just went after him and I got the puck from him and took it down and did a little fake because that’s what you want to do when you’re going up against a goalie that good and just put it in the net,” Sweeney said of his goal.

“It wasn’t anything that any of my other teammates couldn’t have done, I just did it.”

Such was the popularity of the win and significance of the goal, Sweeney’s name began trending worldwide on social media network Twitter.

This was to be followed by Sweeney being honoured with the inaugural Pat Tillman Award for Service at the well-respected 2014 Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards (ESPYs), making him once again into a social media phenomenon.

The award bears the name of former NFL player and US Army Ranger Pat Tillman, and recognises an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the Tillman legacy.

For Russia, the loss came after a meteoric rise to second best in the world just five years after forming.

American Steve Cash finished Sochi 2014 as the top goaltender, with a 4-1 record, 0.41 goals against average and 95.56 save percentage.

His counterpart in the game Kamantcev finished the tournament as Russia’s No. 1 goaltender and was a standout performer in the net with a 95.24 save percentage.

Calling the game for NBC was veteran Olympic and NHL play-by-play voice Dave Strader. He was joined by analyst and 2002 ice sledge hockey gold medallist Kip St. Germaine.

Overall, Sochi 2014 featured the most ever coverage by NBC across all five sports on the Winter programme - 50 hours - helping to significantly raise awareness of para-sport.

NBC and the Unites States Olympic Committee also announced that they had struck a deal to provide viewers with 66 hours of action from Rio 2016, an increase of 60.5 hours from London 2012.