Local skier takes home three bronze medals in U.S. Paralympic Nordic Nationals

Joe Purnhagen/Courtesy Photo

Kenny LaCome recently competed in the U.S Paralympic Nordic Nationals and took home three bronze medals. A fierce competitor who's always looking for new challenges, LaCome said he's considering competing at the paralympic games in China in 2022.

Kenny LaCome is always trying to get better.

LaCome, originally from Taos, now living in Questa, recently came back from the U.S. National Paralympic Sit Ski Nationals, where he won three bronze medals in three cross-country skiing events.

Those events included a 5K cross-country course, a biathlon that entailed shooting an air rifle and an 800-meter sprint - or as LaCome puts it, an event in which you "go as fast as you can."

In the biathlon, LaCome shot an air rifle at targets. If you missed, he said, you had a penalty lap of 100 yards. He did a few, he said. Other than that, the event consisted of doing three 2K laps.

The sprint, he said, had the opening round, semifinals and finals. In the opening round, times would be calculated and those with similar finishes would be grouped together. The semi-finals would knock out every racer other than the top three in each heat, LaCome said. And in the finals, the top three took home medals.

LaCome was among them.

For him, age is a point of pride. At 59, he's only getting better. Seeing a bunch of young competitors around him, in some respect, keeps him going.

LaCome recounted a story of a woman from Norway who won four gold medals in cross-country skiing at the Salt Lake Winter Games. Her success stoked his motivation to get into the sport of cross-country skiing - but being wheelchair-bound and a sit skier, the challenge and demand for skill are much greater.

"I guess it's never too late to get into a new sport," he said. "To be honest I was looking for a new challenge. … it's very fulfilling for me."

In fact, LaCome medaled for the first time at Nationals, after having competed for over a decade in the sport.

With the U.S. National Paralympics falling under the umbrella of Olympic competition, LaCome said he has put some thought into competing in China in 2022.

At a World Cup competition in France in his early years of Nordic skiing, LaCome recalled a man named Bruno, "who was about 70" and used all of his strength. "He was stronger than an ox," LaCome said, noting another competitor who has inspired him to push himself even harder.

"These people are so good in their sit skis - I want to be just as good," LaCome said. "And I feel like I'm just getting there."

LaCome said he's a very community-oriented person, and he continues to value the people around him as sources of support and motivation to keep going - faster and faster.

Doing so successfully means always thinking like an athlete, even when he's off the slopes.

He's also an advocate of clean eating, or what he calls a "living food program." In other words, he eats greens, sprouts and any vegetable he grows - in their "lively state," LaCome said.

He has been trying to get better every day. In fact, he's been challenging himself, in some cases climbing steep terrain in his sit ski, pushing himself to go higher still. Time will tell what peak he reaches next.

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