Born a bilateral amputee, Declan Farmer won Paralympic gold with Team USA in Sochi when he was just 16 years old, and in only his second season with the U.S. national sled hockey team. Now, Farmer returns as an assistant captain for Team USA, looking to make it back-to-back gold medals in PyeongChang.
What is your earliest memory of being exposed to sled hockey?
My earliest memory is from the first time I got on the ice. I was eight years old and a team from New York came down to Tampa, FL to run a clinic for adaptive athletes in the area. I loved the speed of the game from the start. It was also the first time I felt like I was actually competitive since it was the first disabled sport I tried.
When did you first start to dream of one day playing at a Paralympic Winter Games?
I never got to watch the Paralympics live but when I went to my first club tournament, several members from the 2010 Vancouver team were there with their clubs so I got to watch them play. I was amazed by how good they were and I immediately wanted to join them for the Sochi Games.
Who has been the most influential in helping you achieve your Paralympic pursuits?
My parents and club teammate Ron Richardson. My parents have done everything I could ever ask of them and Ron was always a mentor to me since we both got on the ice for the first time in Tampa.
What’s something cool, weird or intense about your sled hockey people don’t normally see?
The complexity of our equipment is really cool, specifically our sleds. So much goes into personally customizing them that no casual watcher would ever notice. The hardest part is skating with the puck. Standup hockey players skate with their feet and stick handle with their arms so doing both at the same time is easy. We have to do both with our arms so being able to do that effectively takes lots of work.
Do you have any pre-game rituals?
I like to have a PB&J Sandwich in the locker room. I get stretched out by our athletic trainer, Mike Cortese. I do some off-ice stick handling to get warmed up, and I also make sure to have a couple of bottles of watered-down Gatorade on hand.