Army veteran Andy Soule, who finished fifth in the 15-kilometer biathlon at the Alberta World Cup on Sunday, earned a bronze medal at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.
CANMORE, Alberta – Paralympic bronze medalist and Army veteran Andy Soule had a standout performance on Tuesday at the International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, racing to a fifth-place finish in the 15-kilometer biathlon.
Soule (Pearland, Texas), who has earned three other top-10 finishes this week in the men’s sit-ski division, was the highest finisher for Team USA on Tuesday. He shot 19-of-20 in windy conditions and finished with a time of 43 minutes, 16.5 seconds.
In the biathlon events, competitors receive a one-minute penalty for every missed shot. Because Soule was just 29 seconds out of bronze medal range, he would have finished on the podium had he not missed a shot.
Still, U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing High Performance Director John Farra said Soule’s accuracy was strong given Tuesday’s tough conditions.
“His one miss made the difference today,” Farra said. “But 19-of-20 shooting on a windy day like today was a big accomplishment in itself and is a testament to Andy’s mental focus on the range.”
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kan.), Air Force veteran Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash.) and Army Reserves veteran Jeremy Wagner (Nanakuli, Hawaii) also raced well on Tuesday, finishing 10th, 11th and 12th respectively in the men’s sit-ski division.
The Russian team once again dominated the women’s sit-ski race, taking the top six spots while Team USA’s Oksana Masters (Louisville, Ky.) and Beth Requist (Grand Lake, Colo.) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Tuesday marked the sixth and final day of competition at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup. While Team USA faced challenging competition throughout the week and only earned one podium finish, a bronze for Masters on opening day, Farra said he has high hopes for his athletes in the coming months.
“We are really pleased about the performance of Team USA in this early season competition,” Farra said. “The staff tested skis, new protocols and how to work with a large group of athletes like we will have in Sochi. We leave with a great deal of confidence that we are moving in the right direction and pleased that we have two and a half months to fine tune our preparations.”
Full results for the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup in Canmore can be found at AlbertaWorldCup.com.
Team USA competes next at the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Championship at Soldier Hollow Resort in Midway, Utah, from Jan. 1-8.
The U.S. team that will compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be named no later than Jan. 31, 2014, and will be determined on a points system that includes world cup results throughout the season.
Team USA will send 17 athletes in total to compete in Nordic skiing events in Sochi, a significant increase from the six-member team that competed at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
For more information, please contact Caryn Maconi, U.S. Paralympics, at 719-866-2196 or Caryn.Maconi@usoc.org.