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SOCHI, March 07. /ITAR-TASS/. A proximate vicinity within a walking distance is still one of the most favorable advantages in Russia’s city of Sochi, which rounded up hosting Winter Olympics last month, and now gears up for the country’s first ever Winter Paralympic Games, according to US team’s wheelchair curling delegation.
“Fabulous!” Marc DePerno, the USA Paralympic Team Curling leader said in an interview with an Itar-Tass correspondent.
“There really are fantastic facilities. We just walked around the entire village area,” DePerno, who was having a late lunch with his team’s Assistant Coach Rusty Schieber at the coastal Paralympic Village, said.
“We have spent this afternoon up in the Mountain Cluster and saw some of the sites and facilities there. But it is more than we could have asked for - the location is good and the weather is fantastic,” DePerno said.
Rusty Schieber said this year’s US delegation was of over 110 people, including 80 athletes and it was larger comparing with the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Canada’s Vancouver and Whistler.
“That is the largest group of athletes for the United States and it is 30 athletes up that we had in Vancouver,” he said. “This is due for 10 athletes for snowboard and a larger delegation that had been brought for skiing.”
Two years ago, the International Paralympic Organization (IPC) official website quoted Rick Patzke, the United States Curling chief operating officer as saying that "the athletes have put their hearts and souls into training and competition, and had a medal within their grasp at the 2010 Paralympics.”
“Having come so close before has surely increased their hunger for success in Sochi, and we and all of America will be firmly behind them as they chase their dreams in 2014," he said.
Wheelchair curling was added as a Paralympic medal sport in 2006. The hosts of the previous Winter Paralympic Games in 2010, Canada, are the reigning champions.
The American Paralympics wheelchair curling team arrived after their long flight from the United States to Sochi on Tuesday and will have their practice on Friday at approximately 2:00 p.m. (10:00 GMT).
The US team will play its first game at the Ice Dome arena against Slovakia on March 8 at 9:30 am (GMT+4), while hosts Russia will encounter the team from China at that same time.