Josh Pauls returns to the Winter Paralympics in Sochi after receiving a gold medal in sled hockey at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver.

By Brian Rank

Thousands of athletes, volunteers, Paralympic officials and media representatives from 45 countries have gathered in Sochi, Russia for the Winter Paralympic games that begin Friday, March 7. The games are poised to be the largest in history and are the first in Russia.

The 2014 games will feature 575 athletes competing for 72 medals in five adaptive sports categories – alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling. Notable is the addition of snowboarding, with two medal events under the Alpine skiing category.

The USA will be represented by a delegation of 80 athletes comprised of 22 women and 58 men, its largest team ever. Team USA enters the games fourth in total medals won in Winter Paralympic events with 96 golds, 97 silvers and 68 bronze. Norway leads with a total of 315 medals, followed by Germany and Austria.

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