by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
On March 4, 2022, approximately 600 of the world’s best Paralympic athletes will come together to compete in the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. In preparation for the games, we are highlighting some of the athletes with vision loss. Up first is Max Nelson, a 17-year-old teenager from Minnesota. The youngest member of Team USA’s Nordic Skiing team, he is legally blind, with no vision in his left eye, and limited vision in his right eye. Nelson was diagnosed with an eye disease at two years old, but never allowed it to slow him down. At age seven, his father introduced him to skiing, and he was skiing professionally by high school. “He is the first visually impaired skier in Minnesota to win an individual conference title, and has also competed in two World Cups, last year in Slovenia and this year in Canada.” Nelson uses a sighted guide who skis in front of him, wearing bright colors and a microphone, to give directions and communicate potential obstacles or turns. Nelson’s coach, Dave Bridges, describes him as “indestructible” with “spirit and a can-do attitude.” Bridges stated “he is impressed with Nelson’s athletic ability and attitude, despite the challenges he has faced.” Nelson is set to race in the Paralympics Nordic skiing classic sprint March 9, the 12.5-kilometer skate on March 12, and possibly the relay the following day. To find out more about Max Nelson’s journey to the 2022 Winter Games, Watch the ABC News story “Legally blind teenager to compete in Beijing Paralympics”. You may also read the ABC News article “Legally blind Mahtomedi HS teen to compete at Beijing Paralympics as youngest on U.S. Nordic skiing team”, here.