U.S. Paralympians finish Nordic nationals strong

By Traci Hendrix | Jan. 08, 2013, 12 p.m. (ET)

Two U.S. Paralympic Nordic Team athletes, along with more than 20 American athletes, are preparing for the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Championships this week at the U.S. Adaptive Nordic Nationals in Soldier Hollow, Utah.

A chilly Finland found the Paralympians for the season opening IPC World Cup event. Since, the athletes have advanced to Utah, to continue their success.

John Farra, high performance director for U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing, proudly stated how this competition has grown from Nordic competitions in the past.

“The athletes are doing great, but the most impressive part is the increase in participants,” he said. “We have 30 American athletes and athletes from three other nations competing. China, Mongolia and Canada have joined the championship.”

In addition to new athletes like Tatyana McFadden who are excelling in competitive Nordic skiing, the returning talent is also doing well at nationals and beyond. U.S. Navy Lt. Dan Cnossen (Jamestown, Mich.) finished with two Top 10 results including a career best fifth place result which brought him within 10 seconds of a podium at the world cup in Vuokatti, Finland.

Also in Finland, Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games bronze medalist Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), a U.S. Army veteran, claimed two Top 10 results, and hitting his targets with precision by going 9 for 10 in the sprint biathlon event earning an eighth place result, followed by hitting 19 of 20 targets in the long biathlon event. 

Over the three cross country races and one biathlon race at Soldier Hollow, the two had some impressive highlights as they build towards the 2013 world championships in February in Solleftea, Sweden.

“Soule and Cnossen look great, but this is just a warm up for them preparing for the IPC World Cup next week in Cable,” said Farra.

Farra encouraged people to look forward to Soule and Cnossen receiving well-earned medals and making podiums on the world cup circuit.

“I’m also very excited about all of the female athletes who have joined our team. We have a group of young and vibrant women in sit ski, so it will be great to see how they progress,” Farra concluded.

The nationals end Wednesday with men and women’s biathlon sprint standing, visually impaired and sit ski.

Moving forward to snowier slopes, U.S. Paralympics will announce Tuesday the 16 athletes who will head to Cable, Wis., for the world cup Jan. 13-20.

For more information on the international Nordic skiing season, check out the schedule on the IPC website.