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How an Anchorage ski shop helped Andrew Kurka become a world champion

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 7:53 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The wait is almost over for Paralympic gold medalist Andrew Kurka. The Palmer sit skier has been unable to compete internationally for over a year after his ski season was cut short due to COVID-19.

In February, Kurka will be back on the World Cup racing in Austria and Russia. Early this winter, the 29-year-old trained with the National Sports Center for the Disabled and raced in smaller races in Colorado and Utah, doing everything he can to prepare for global competition.

“I’m a little nervous,” Kurka discussing his return to the World Cup. “The way things have been going and I haven’t had a chance to compete against many of those guys in over a year due to COVID.”

One thing Kurka won’t have to worry about is making sure his skis are ready to race. Since the start of his career, he has turned to a local ski shop in Anchorage called SkiAK. The shop takes care of his skis and makes sure Kurka can ski as fast as possible.

“He’s a local athlete we want him to succeed,” said SkiAK co-owner Russell Sell. “He’s a very powerful, dynamic skier that holds nothing back and that is what the expectation is at the national level.”

With Kurka traveling the world, this means sometimes Sell and SkiAK has to go the literal extra mile to get Kurka his skis.

“We almost had to go to South America one point in time to take care of his equipment,” said Sell.

Kurka recognizes the impact the Anchorage ski shop has had on his career.

“He’s [Sell] the reason I’ve been able to consistently win the past 7-8 years,” Kurka said. “He’s the reason I’ve become a world champion.”

This winter SkiAK’s World Cup Race service got a little bit bigger as Kurka’s Team USA teammate David Williams began using the Anchorage ski shop as well.

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