Paralympic Winter Games
04 - 13 March

USA’s Sweeney to make Paralympic return

Josh Sweeney retired after winning gold with the USA Para Ice Hockey team at Sochi 2014 Sweeney will now compete in Para Cross-Country Skiing at Beijing 2022 04 Mar 2022
An ice sledge hockey player skates up to his teammate to celebrate.
Josh Sweeney is swapping the ice for snow eight years after winning gold in Para Ice Hockey with team USA.
ⒸGetty Images

Josh Sweeney won gold with the USA Para Ice Hockey team at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games before becoming a father and retiring from the sport.

Eight years later, he will make a Games comeback as a Para Cross-Country sit-skier at Beijing 2022.

"Hockey is almost exactly the same movement and all the same muscles (as cross-country skiing)," the 34-year-old said. "You're just doing it a little differently.

"I checked into Nordic skiing and realised I had some potential to be able to compete at the highest level of the sport, so I worked hard and was named to the team, which is really exciting."

Taking time off the ice rink when his son Sawyer was born in 2015, Sweeney aimed to return to defend the USA's title at PyeongChang 2018. Then he learned his daughter Zoe was to be born just before the Games and decided to drop out.

"It was just too hard, being away so much from my family and also trying to find ice time and skate. It was really challenging," the Army veteran, who lost his legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2009, said.

"I had to sit back and look at where my priorities were and I realised I needed to get into an individual sport.

"It was really good to feel that I'm back and able to do what I love, which is being a part of Team USA."

Josh Sweeney was instrumental in the USA's victory at Sochi 2014. Ⓒ USA Hockey


Coming into his first Games as a cross-country skier, Sweeney will draw on his memories from 2014.

"If I hadn't already been to one Games I wouldn't feel so confident in my abilities but I've been to these before and it's the same concept," he said.

"You have your pre-race jitters and exciting feelings towards racing but I'm not nervous about it.

"It (Sochi 2014) was awesome and I took advantage of those moments. I spent time with friends and family, we celebrated, and after that it was back to work, hoping I could be back here again, hopefully get another amazing result that I can go back and celebrate."

This time around, he has at least two new fans cheering for him from home in Boise, Idaho, USA.

"My kids are super excited that I am here racing. They want me to win, do a good job, work hard and have fun. I Facetime with them once or twice a day and knowing they're back home cheering me on really means a lot."

Para Cross-Country Skiing will get underway with the men’s and women’s long distance sitting on 6 March. The full schedule can be viewed at