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US Paralympics team takes home medals as games open in Sochi

  • sled-hockey-sochi-paralympics.jpg

    March 9, 2014: South Korea's and United States' players shake hands after their ice sledge hockey match at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, March 9, 2014. United States won 3-0.AP

  • alana-nichols-030914.jpg

    March 8, 2014: United States Alana Nichols races to win her silver medal in the women's downhill, sitting skiing event at the 2014 Winter Paralympic, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.AP

  • Tatyana-McFadden.jpg

    March 9, 2014: Tatyana Mcfadden of United States, second left in the first row, poses with her Russian birth mum, second right in the first row, after her race during the ladies 12km cross country ski, sitting event at the 2014 Winter Paralympic in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.AP

The U.S. has won three medals after the first day of the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.

On Saturday at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, Allison Jones won a bronze for Team USA in the women’s standing downhill, while Alana Nichols and Laurie Stephens took silver and bronze, respectively, in the sitting race.

The U.S.’ Paralympic sled hockey team also beat Italy 5-1, while America’s curlers lost twice in competition, according to the team’s website. U.S. Army veteran Oksana Masters finished fourth in biathlon.

Meanwhile, American cross-country skier Tatyana McFadden gave an inspired performance on Sunday in front of her Russian birth mother and the American woman who adopted her as an ailing child.

"I got to see them before I raced, so I think it gave me that extra energy, an extra boost," the 24-year-old McFadden said after finishing fifth. "I just raced for my family today. When I was feeling tired, in pain and frustrated, I just had to think about my family in the stands."

When McFadden left a St. Petersburg orphanage for Maryland 20 years ago, she was not expected to live long, let alone return to Russia. After spending the first six years of life walking on her hands because of spina bifida, even after several operations in the U.S., her adoptive family feared the worst.

But McFadden survived against the odds, with a fighting spirit that drove her into an unlikely yet successful sporting career, leading to Sunday's emotional and rare reunion with the mother forced to abandon her.

"I am very proud, it's amazing," said Nina Polevikova, beaming with pride to her daughter as her Russian family translated. "It's like a miracle."

McFadden is already a decorated athlete, with 10 medals from the last three Summer Paralympic Games in wheelchair racing, and last year the first "grand slam" in wheelchair marathon racing.

In other events Sunday, Britain's wheelchair curlers won two successive matches on Sunday, and former former soldier Mick Brennan finished 10th for the country in the men's Super-G, according to the BBC.

Japan’s Akira Kano took the gold in Super G, with teammate Taiki Morii earning silver.

The standing class of the event was won by Austria's Markus Salcher, while Slovaki’s Jakub Krako, guided by Martin Motyka, took first place in the visually impaired class.

Russia also took a clean sweep of medals in the men's 15km cross country skiing seated event, with Roman Petushkov, Irek Zaripov and Aleksandr Davidovich winning gold, silver and bronze respectively, the BBC reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.