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Ice Warriors - USA Sled Hockey

Airs Monday, February 24, 2014 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: USA Sled Hockey Team

Over the course of ten days in March 2014 in Sochi, Russia, the Paralympic Winter Games will bring together the world’s top athletes with physical disabilities to represent their countries and compete in the world’s toughest Games. Second only to the Olympic Games themselves, the Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event that redefine what makes a champion. These extraordinary individuals battle in the same stadiums for the gold, silver, and bronze medals, and in the presence of the same flaming torch as the Olympic athletes.

Courtesy of Meredith Nierman/WGBH

USA Sled Hockey Team. This program portrays the United States Ice Sled Hockey team as it prepares to compete in the Winter Paralympics in a sport called "murderball on blades."

Courtesy of Meredith Nierman/WGBH

Player from USA Sled Hockey Team.

Courtesy of Meredith Nierman/WGBH

Team USA and Team Canada compete.

"Ice Warriors," a new action-packed PBS documentary, goes behind the scenes to profile the accomplishments of one group of these elite competitors: the 2014 U.S. Paralympics Sled Hockey Team. The film introduces viewers to these amazing athletes as they defend their 2010 gold medal, and chronicles the journey of the team and its players as they prepare for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. "Ice Warriors" premieres on Monday, February 24, 2014 on PBS.

Sled hockey is a riveting game of force, speed and strategy. Also known as “murderball on blades,” the sport is played as aggressively as “standup” hockey – but its players battle, at eye level, with their sticks, their sharp sled runners, and the serrated ice picks used to propel their sleds.

"Ice Warriors" captures the dramatic moments and heated competition in the long-standing and intense rivalry between Team USA and Team Canada. Team USA took gold in Vancouver 2010, crushing Canada’s hopes of a home-country win. The Canadians retaliated, winning the World Championships in 2013. Both teams are hungry for gold this year, and "Ice Warriors" illustrates their competitiveness in the lead-up to Sochi.

For "Ice Warriors," the filmmakers gained unparalleled access to the U.S. Paralympics Sled Hockey Team. Beginning in September of 2013, the filmmakers accompanied the players at training camps and competitions, in the locker rooms and in the athletes’ homes, giving viewers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the arduous journey to Sochi. Along this journey, viewers witness the camaraderie of the teammates on and off the rink, learn about the personal triumphs and trials of the athletes, and see them at home with their supportive families.

“'Ice Warriors' will challenge preconceptions and assumptions about the capabilities of people with disabilities and help celebrate the contributions that Paralympians make to sports and to their countries,” said WGBH Executive Producer Judith Vecchione. “We’re excited to shine a light on the inspiring achievements of these incredible athletes and to promote new understanding of the Paralympic Movement.”

This year’s team features a diverse roster of players with compelling stories. Four members of the 2014 U.S. Paralympics Sled Hockey Team are “wounded warriors”—military veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—who had life-changing injuries and are now world-class athletes competing at the highest levels of adaptive sports. "Ice Warriors" highlights the athletes’ personal journeys, emphasizing the role of sport in rehabilitation and examining the technologies that have enabled them to proudly represent the US again, this time on the playing field.

This year’s team also runs a wide age spectrum—from a first-timer 15-year-old making his team debut, to the 35-year-old seasoned captain, now considered “ancient” by some of the younger teammates, as well as two high school friends injured in the same car accident who went through rehab and tryouts together.

U.S. Olympic Team is on Facebook, and you can follow @USOlympic on Twitter.

Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey - Preview

The training is tough as the U.S. sled hockey team prepares for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in ICE WARRIORS, premiering Monday, February 24 at 10/9C on PBS (check local listings).

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