Four top-10 finishes in Sunday's cross country skiing races

March 14, 2010, 6:31 p.m. (ET)

Whistler Paralympic Park - After a momentous day for the U.S. team in yesterday's biathlon competition, five American athletes took to the tracks Sunday in the men's sitting 15 km and women's sitting 10 km events.

In the men's race, USA took eighth, ninth and tenth, while Russia claimed the top two podium spots. Chris Klebl (Heber City, Utah) was the top U.S. finisher, crossing the line with a time of 43:13.7 (+2:21.1), followed by Sean Halstead (Spokane, Wash./Twin Lakes, Idaho) in ninth with a 43:25.6 (+2:27.5).

"We were a little nervous about the weather, but it turned out to be awesome," said Halstead. "The tracks were super slick and firm, so they held up for the full four laps. I felt energized and very good about my performance. I put it all out there, which was just what I wanted to do."

Less than 24 hours after winning a bronze medal in the biathlon 2.4 km pursuit yesterday, Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas) returned for a top-ten finish in today's cross country long distance event. Soule posted a time of 43:32.8 (+2:31.7) for tenth place overall. Greg Mallory (Portland, Ore.) crossed the line 26th in a 46:30.6 (+5:50.5).

On the women's side, Monica Bascio (Evergreen, Colo.) finished ninth in a field of twelve competitors. After a near collision in the first lap, when Korea's Vo-Ra-Mi Seo crossed into Bascio's tracks, the American recovered to cross the line with a time of 34:33.9 (+3:55.1).

Cross country events continue Monday at Whistler Paralympic Park, where USA's Kelly Underkofler (St. Paul, Minn.) will compete for a medal in the women's standing 15 km. For a complete schedule and results, visit

Contact: Allison Frederick, U.S. Paralympic Press Officer,, 778-938-8721.

Cross Country: Flash Quotes

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sean Halstead (Spokane, Wash./Twin Lakes, Idaho), Men's Sitting 15 km

On the course:

It was a great course, great weather. We were a little nervous about the weather, but it turned out to be awesome. The tracks were super slick and firm, so they held up for the full four laps. I felt energized and very good about my performance. I put it all out there, just what I wanted to do.

On his race strategy:

[My coaches] talked about giving me a little more energy in the beginning, because what I tend to do is not be aggressive enough. So today's plan was to go out hard, stay in front of the 12's and hopefully catch Andy. If I could do that, then things would go well. It was basically go out hard and try to hold on until the end.

On his mental game with the staggered race format:

It's definitely difficult before you cross the finish line. You want to know how you do; other people want to know how you do. Just because you cross first doesn't mean anything. You've got to basically finish with an open mind, is the best way of putting it, and just wait for the scores to come through to do the math and then you find out where you ended up.

Comparing Paralympic and Olympic athletes:

I definitely think we put forth the same amount of effort. They try real hard; we try real hard. I think they've got more of a selection process than we do-as in, there are more able bodies. I mean, we're 10 percent of the population. So if you cut that 10 percent and try to make athletes out of that group, it doesn't always work. We're all elite-level athletes. It's just that part of our body's not working.

Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), Men's Sitting 15 km

On his race performance:

It went pretty well. Top-ten in this field is a strong finish. I felt pretty good today and fully recovered.

On his race strategy:

It's a long race. Early on in the 15 km event, I pick a good strong pace and stick with it, and then try to sprint it out in the end. The course was firm, icy and fast today - much faster than yesterday.

On the upcoming week:

I'm looking forward to a little more rest tomorrow. The remainder of the week, I want to get rested and get pumped for the 12.5 km coming up. That's a big one for me, so I'm going to start getting ready for that.

Monica Bascio (Evergreen, Colo.), Women's Sitting 10 km

On avoiding Korea's Vo-Ra-Mi Seo in the first part of the race:

I came over the bridge and she was on the in track and I was on the outer. The track was going to the left and she went down. I think maybe her ski took her out and caught her off balance. She fell to the right, over my tracks. It was really close and I just ran right over her - right over her skis and poles. It's not common, but it's not unexpected for something like that to happen in a race. Certainly with the pressure of the Paralympics and not much experience, it can throw you off. When you have someone in front of you that might be a little slower, it's really all about avoidance.

On changes to her equipment:

After some video analysis, I tweaked my seating position a little bit so I'm more forward. It was definitely for the better. I had great confidence in my seat and great confidence in my skis. They were running and they felt great. I did my best.