KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – After a two-day break for cross-country events, the biathlon competition resumed on Day 4 of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
American sit skier Andy Soule (San Antonio, Texas) posted the best finish of the day for Team USA, placing fifth in the men’s 12.5-kilometer biathlon after putting together another virtually mistake-free race that included a perfect 20-for-20 on the shooting range.
Soule, an Army veteran, finished with a time of 37:04.7 on a cold and rainy day at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center where fog blanketed the area and temperatures did not rise above 35 degrees. This was in stark contrast to yesterday where most skiers raced in short-sleeves and battled with temperatures that rose to the mid-60s by early afternoon.
“These are always fun days when it’s challenging and visibility is limited along with wind and rain. It makes for interesting races; I love competing on days like this. Today went well, and I am very happy with it,” said Soule.
Soule has now finished in the top 5 of every Nordic skiing event he has competed in at these Games, and is skiing some of the best races of his career.
“Overall, I think I have had three of the best days of racing ever in these Games,” said Soule.
In today’s race, Soule once again hovered near the top of the pack, thanks in part to a perfect day in all four shooting stages. Soule has yet to miss a shot in any biathlon events in Sochi and admits that he has certainly been in a groove during each of his shooting stages thus far.
“Everything feels very solid. I am having a really good period with shooting right now and everything that we have practiced all year has come together,” noted Soule.
Soule has now posted two fifth place finishes and one fourth place finish in these Games. But despite just missing the podium in each of his three races, Soule could not be happier with how he has performed thus far in the Games.
“Every day that I come out and put together a good performance is another shot for me. There are only so many things I can control, and, honestly, these guys I am competing against are really good. I am just really happy to be pressing them,” admitted Soule.
In addition to Soule, several other Americans competed today.
Teammates Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kan.) and retired Senior Airman Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash.) were not far behind Soule in today’s 12km sitting biathlon. Both finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th, respectively. Army veteran Jeremy Wagner (Nanakuli, Hawaii) finished the race in 16th overall with a time of 40:51.1, and Augusto Perez (East Syracuse, N.Y.) placed 19th.
24-year-old Oksana Masters (Louisville, Ky.), who has already made a huge splash in these Games after winning a silver medal in the women’s 12km cross-country race on March 10, competed in the first race of the day, the women’s 10km sitting biathlon. Masters finished in eighth place with a time of 40:22.8.
Also in action was Omar Bermejo (Grand Rapids, Mich.). Bermejo finished with a time of 37:22.8, good for 17th in the 12.5km standing biathlon.
The team returns to action tomorrow where several Americans will take part in the cross-country sprint competition.