U.S. Pair Aiming for Para-Ice Hockey Final
Two American Athletes injured in the same freak road traffic accident will face off against Italy together in the Para-Ice Hockey Semi Final at the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang.
In 2007 Nikko Landeros and Tyler Carron were classmates, members of the school wrestling team and played American Football and Ice Hockey, before an accident changed their lives forever and bonded them together in a way which is hard to imagine being repeated.
The two friends were traveling back from a school dance with their dates, when they got a flat tyre. The snow packed roads were treacherous and whilst looking for tools in the boot of the car they were hit by another car, driven by a fellow pupil.
Speaking to the BBC Carron said "The last thing I remember was asking my mum what shoes I should wear for the dance. I don't even remember leaving the house." Having fallen unconscious after the collision, unlike Landeros who was conscious throughout.
"The girls with us probably had their mind blown. Tyler probably looked dead because he's unconscious. All you see is flashing lights, the helicopter come down and then the feel of the air as it lands. You either give up and cross over that line or you fight until you understand someone will take care of you.”
Both were lucky to survive but lost their legs. "I remember waking up in the hospital angry because I didn't have any legs," said Carron, “but after a while I was feeling like it was good to be alive”. "People do their fair share of crying and reminiscing. I've been through my part in that but it passed pretty quickly - the pity party was mainly at the beginning, the first week or two.” added Landeros
Keen to return to regular sport but not knowing how to adapt to their disability, they weren’t sure where to start, but a few months after the accident, they tried out Para-ice hockey and the rest as they say in history.
Landeros was the first to make the US national team, making his debut in 2009 and went on to win gold medals at the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Paralympics Games. Carron made the squad later, being called up in 2010 and was part of the 2014 Paralympic side, lifting Gold with his long-time friend.
"If it's a day I don't feel like walking and I see Tyler walking, I'm like 'man I've got to put my legs on'," said Landeros."We push each other to achieve greatness - that may never happen but hopefully we can win a few gold medals."
If the US can navigate their Semi-Final with Italy today it will set up a final with South Korea or Canada, and 11 years after that cold January night on a roadside in Colorado, they will have a shot at glory once again.