Strong showing for Americans in biathlon

By Nick Kiger | March 14, 2014, 9:15 a.m. (ET)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – The U.S. Paralympic Nordic skiing team closed out the biathlon competition of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, today with another strong showing. Sit skiers Andy Soule (San Antonio, Texas) and Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kan.) once again displayed the huge strides the Americans have made in biathlon in recent years by both recording top-10 finishes in the men’s 15km sitting race.

Soule, an Army veteran, just narrowly missed out on a medal once again, finishing fourth with a time of 44:52.6. Russia swept the podium with Roman Petushkov winning the race by more than two minutes over Grigory Murygin. Petushkov finished in a time of 42:20.8, with Murygin finishing in 44:25.7. Aleksandr Davidovich was third at 44:46.2.

Soule continues to be the standout male athlete of these Games for the American squad as he has yet to finish lower than fifth in any event in Sochi. And although he has not landed on the podium thus far, Soule reiterated that he has been pleased with all of his races.

“I just have to race within myself and not worry about what anyone else is doing because I can’t control it. I’ve put together a lot of good races in these Games,” he said.

Soule was impressive on the range today, just as he has been throughout the Games, once again shooting clean by going a perfect 20-for-20. That brought his Games total to 50-for-50 across all biathlon competitions, an incredible feat for any Nordic athlete and one that Soule is particularly pleased with.

“I am really proud of going 100 percent from the range in these Games,” said Soule. “I also had decent range times throughout, so I could not have done much better; I had a great Games in biathlon.”

Cnossen, who is still relatively new to Nordic skiing after having only taken up the sport less than three years ago, was also impressive today. Cnossen finished in 10th place with a time of 48:27.8, which included two one-minute penalties for missed shots. It was Cnossen’s best finish in biathlon in Sochi after finishing 11th in the 12.5km and 14th in the 6km events earlier in the competition.

Cnossen was satisfied with his finish today but will evaluate today’s race and use it as a tool to assist him in his ongoing development.

“It’s a good take away for me because as a biathlete I am still developing,” admitted Cnossen. “Today I learned to focus on the skiing, ski hard when I can, but then relax in the range and to not do anything different.”

Also placing well was Air Force veteran Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash.). Halsted finished right behind Cnossen in 11th place with a time of 48:31.1 and was quick to note how fast the course was today.

“It was intense out there today; it was definitely slick,” said Halsted. “I had to fine tune how I raced today and figure out how I was going to hit this fast snow.”

Also competing in the 15km sitting biathlon were Jeremy Wagner (Nanakuli, Hawaii), Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minn.) and Travis Dodson (Deming, N.M.), who finished 18th, 19th and 21st, respectively.

In today’s afternoon biathlon races, Marine Corps veteran Omar Bermejo (Grand Rapids, Mich.) finished 17th in the 15km race, and Navy veteran Kevin Burton (Boulder, Colo.) finished 12th in the 15km visually impaired event.

Action continues tomorrow as the Americans will compete in both the cross-country skiing 4 x 2.5km mixed and open relays.

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