It was a thrilling year for the Paralympic Movement in the United States and around the globe. Records were broken and legacies were made. From Dec. 18-30, USParalympics.org will unveil the Top 13 moments of 2013 for U.S. Paralympics in chronological order.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen, a sit-skier, won the first medal of the season for the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Team on Jan. 13 at the International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wis. His silver medal in the 10-kilometer opener marked the first cross-country medal for Team USA in recent history.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen is one of the top U.S. medal hopefuls for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in cross-country skiing. He also competes in biathlon.
“I am really pleased with my performance today," said Cnossen following his first-ever world cup podium apperance. "I knew I was really going fast. It was a great feeling.”
Cnossen finished second to Russian Ramil Ilalutdinov, who won the race with a time of 24:01.7. Cnossen was 11.8 seconds back, posting a time of 24:13.5, although comfortably ahead of bronze medalist Russian Igor Kuznetsov, who cross the line with a time of 24:17.3.
Before the medal winning performance in Cable, Cnossen had managed top-10 finishes at the world cup held in Dec. 2012 in Vuokatti, Finland.
“This was a great day for Team USA," said John Farra, director of high performance for U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing program at the United States Olympic Committee. "In addition to Dan gathering our first podium of the year, we had terrific performances from the rest of the team, including some very new athletes to the sport who have now made their mark. What a great way to start our home World Cup."
A day after making the podium for the first time, Cnossen won bronze in the 15-kilometer event with a time of 41:02.6, 29.7 seconds back from Ilalutdinov winning with a time 40:32.9. Kuznetsov took second posting 40:52.1.
"Dan continues to close the gap to the top guys in the sport and this result represents all the hard work that he puts in every single day,” said James Upham, head coach for the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Team.
Cnossen went on two win two medals in biathlon to close out the competition. A Nordic skier since 2010, Cnossen won four of the 13 medals claimed by Team USA at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, the most of any U.S. athlete.
Cnossen went on to compete at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Final in Sochi, Russia, at the site of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, but did not medal. He also participated in the world championships.
Cnossen, now an active duty lieutenant commander, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.
On the first day of his promotion to lieutenant, he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, resulting in the amputation of both legs. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V (for valor) from the Secretary of the Navy.
— Linda Jager contributed to this report