Kokomo Native Headed To Sochi To Compete in Paralympics

Joel Hunt will be one of the first people with a traumatic brian injury to compete in the Paralympic games.

Joel Hunt has been skiing less than a decade

Photo: Ken Watson

Joel Hunt has been skiing less than a decade

Military veteran and alpine skier Joel Hunt is heading to Sochi next month to compete in the Paralympics, two weeks after the Olympics end.

He will be one of first people with a traumatic brain injury to compete.

Hunt says he never even considered skiing when he was younger. He instead set his sights on a military career.

“I come from Kokomo, so I am use to bailing hay and tasseling. We never did any of that playing golf or skiing or anything like that. We have jobs to do,” he says.

But on his third tour of duty in Iraq, Hunt was injured by a roadside blast; leaving him with a traumatic brain injury and paralyzing one of his legs.

Hunt was confined to a wheel chair and was fighting depression. His parents tried every they could to boost his spirits and eventually convinced him to join a veterans ski program.

Tim Emling is an adaptive ski coach in Aspen, Colo., where Hunt now lives, and he says Hunt hasn’t looked back since he started skiing.

“Coming from a military background like Joel did, he brings a lot of structure and regiment to his daily program, which we find motivates a lot of our guys,” he says.

Hunt says he’s honored to be chosen for the Paralympic team and hopes he can be an example to other veterans who have faced similar hardships.

  • Wendy Smithton

    I just don’t understand how someone can be in one video interview that says that he was discharged from the Army with a 10% disability rating from the PEB because of an injury to his foot when an I-beam fell on it at Fort Carson, and then in his “famous” My Life From the Ski Lift speech that he uses to beg for money and unearned praise he says that he was “injured by a road-side blast that left me with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).” He has told so many different stories to so many people, I don’t think even Joel knows the truth anymore. He has taken advantage of the goodwill of veteran non-profits, been given things he neither deserves nor needs – and claims it’s “All about the soldier.” I don’t believe that it is – in reality, it’s all about whatever Joel can get for free – including most of the costs involved in his training for the Paralympics. He cannot represent the USA with honor and integrity, simply because he has none. He has disparaged his fellow athletes to others – to include someone who really DOES deserve to go to Sochi, Mr. Jon Lujan – by saying that “Jon doesn’t care about the veterans, all he cares about is medals and podiums.” The USOC really wants someone of Joel’s low character to represent the USA in the Paralympics? Shame on them.

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