After a tough couple of years, Palmer native Andrew Kurka is back atop the World Cup Para Alpine podium.

He is our Alaska Athlete of the Week.

Know for his fearlessness and technical savvy, Kurka won gold at both the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea and 2017 World Championships in Italy, but in recent years his racing career was derailed by  injuries and personal adversities.

A 15-year member of the U.S. Para Alpine Team, he won a hotly contested downhill race Tuesday in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, the site of the 2026 Paralympics.

Competing in the men’s sitting division three days after his 32nd birthday, Kurka navigated his sit-ski down the challenging route at speeds of up of to 60 miles per hour to win in 1 minute, 21.44 seconds.

He edged runner-up Kurt Oatway of Canada by 0.19 seconds and bronze medalist Niels De Langen of the Netherlands by 0.20 seconds with fourth place just 0.58 seconds behind.

Also receiving votes:

  • Adarra Hagelund – One week after breaking into the NAIA top-three rankings for high jump, the Dickinson St sophomore from Soldotna native had a monstrous jump to claim the top spot, clearing 5 feet, 8.75 inches at the NAIA Preview.
  • Layla Hays – The 6-foot-5 first-team all-state junior forward at Wasilla High School dominated the paint and led the Warriors to a a 47-32 wire-to-wire win over Mountain City Christian Academy that snapped their 133-game winning streak against in-state competition.
  • Cole Schmidt – The senior goaltender, Schmidt may be the primary reason the South High hockey team earned the championship in the 55th Cook Inlet Conference tournament, the program’s eighth. Schmidt stopped 65 of the 67 shots faced in three wins.

The Alaska Athlete of the Week is selected by a panel each Monday

Have a candidate in mind? Email us your nomination:

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