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Tatyana McFadden claims surprise Paralympic silver medal

Mar 12, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

Tatyana McFadden AP

Ten-time Summer Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden won her first Winter Paralympic medal Wednesday, silver in the 1km cross-country sprint, less than two years after she picked up skiing.

McFadden, 24, finished 4.61 seconds behind Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen to win one of two U.S. medals Wednesday. Alpine skier Laurie Stephens added bronze in the sitting slalom.

McFadden won her medal in front of her Russian birth mother and the director of her former Russian orphanage.

Sochi marks a bit of a homecoming for McFadden, who was born in Russia paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida and adopted from a St. Petersburg orphanage at age 6.

McFadden grew into a Paralympic track and field star and had unprecedented success in 2013, when she became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single International Paralympic Committee Track and Field World Championship. She also captured the first major wheelchair marathon “Grand Slam,” sweeping Boston, London, Chicago and New York City.

She was encouraged to pick up cross-country skiing by Alana Nichols, the first U.S. woman to win gold medals in the Summer (wheelchair basketball) and Winter (Alpine skiing) Paralympics.

McFadden had never made the podium in a World Cup cross-country skiing race before winning her silver medal in Sochi.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. wheelchair curling team beat China 10-2 and Sweden 8-3 to keep its hopes alive of advancing to the semifinals with one game left.

Paralympic broadcast schedule

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