Andy Soule
At the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, Andy Soule became the first American biathlete to medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games. The Vancouver bronze medalist in men's sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit is now training for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Preview

Athletes named to the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Nordic Ski Team have the option to compete in two disciplines at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, as biathlon and cross-country skiing are contested as separate sports. Team USA is vying for medals in both.

 Dan Cnossen
Dan Cnossen receives one of four medals won at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wis.

With Dan Cnossen (Jamestown, Mich.), a U.S. Navy Seal Lieutenant, and U.S. Army veteran Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas) leading the way, a team loaded with military athletes has sights set on its first Paralympic medal in cross-country skiing since 2006 and second overall medal in biathlon. Soule became the first U.S. biathlete ever to win a medal at the Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games in 2010 when he claimed the bronze in the men’s sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit.

Team USA won an impressive 13 medals at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wis., in January, with Cnossen leading the American tally with two medals in biathlon and two in cross-country. His cross-country medals marked the first for the U.S. in recent memory. Soule earned silver in the middle biathlon event and placed top 10 in the short sitting event.

While Cnossen and Soule were the top performers for Team USA in Cable, finishes on the women’s side included Kristina Vaughn’s (Corry, Pa.) silver medal in women’s long 10k sitting biathlon. She also placed second in the women’s short biathlon and third in women’s sit ski middle distance course.

Beth Requist (Grand Lake, Colo.) was also a repeating medalist in the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup with two biathlon third-place podiums for women’s long sit ski and also for women’s short sit ski events. Up and comer Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.) finished just shy of the podium in her three events, but leads the American women in cross-country races.

Five men, including Cnossen and Soule, competed at the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, Feb. 23-March 5 in Solleftea, Sweden. While Team USA did not medal, it provided rich experience for U.S. Paralympic Nordic Team newcomers Eric Frazier (Maple Hill, N.C.), ret., U.S. Marines, and Jeremy Wagner (Honolulu, Hawaii), ret., U.S. Army Reserves.

Vancouver Paralympian Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash./Twin Lakes, Idaho), ret., U.S. Air Force, also joined the team in Sweden. At the 2010 Games, he had two top-10 finishes - something he hopes to improve on at the Sochi Games.

The 16,000-seat Biathlon and Ski Complex is host site of the Sochi 2014 biathlon and cross-country competitions.

Storylines

  • In 2010, Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas) won the first U.S. medal in biathlon at the Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games, the bronze medal in the men’s sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit. Soule, a U.S. Army veteran, is training for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
  • U.S. Navy Lt. Dan Cnossen (Jamestown, Mich.), who won multiple medals on the International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup circuit in 2012-13, aims to become the first American to medal in cross-country skiing in eight years. At the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, Steven Cook won three medals.
  • While Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.), Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minn.) and Oksana Masters (Louisville, Ky.) were successful at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, each is also vying for a spot on the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team. McFadden, a three-time gold medalist in track, and Pike are on the 2013-14 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Team, Masters, a bronze medalist in rowing, is on the development team.
  • The U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing program is rich in military athletes. At the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Championships, five athletes competed for Team USA, and all had a military background. U.S. Navy Lt. Dan Cnossen (Jamestown, Mich.) was joined by Eric Frazier (Maple Hill, N.C.), retired U.S. Marines; Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash./Twin Lakes, Idaho), retired Air Force; Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), retired Army; and Jeremy Wagner (Honolulu, Hawaii), retired Army Reserves.
  • In June 2011, the United States Olympic Committee hired John Farra as the high performance director for the newly created U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing program. Farra was previously a member of the U.S. Ski Team, competing at the world championship and Olympic levels, and served as the Nordic program director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, from 2008-11. During his tenure at USSA the U.S. Ski Teams in cross country, ski jumping and Nordic combined won six world championship and four Olympic medals.

Athletes to Watch

Dan Cnossen (Jamestown, Mich.)
Dan Cnossen, who competed in multiple sports at the 2011 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte for Navy/Coast Guard, hopes to make his Paralympic Games debut at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in biathlon and cross-country skiing. He joined the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing program in 2010. At the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wis., he won four of the 13 medals claimed by Team USA, with two each in cross-country skiing and biathlon. He has qualified for the 2013 International Paralympic Committee World Cup Final in Sochi, Russia. Cnossen graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He is an active duty lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, where he is a U.S. Navy Seal. 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.

Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash./Twin Lakes, Idaho)
U.S. Air Force veteran Sean Halsted was injured after falling 40 feet out of a helicopter, while on a fast rope during a search and rescue training exercise in 1998. An all-conference Pac-10 athlete in rowing, he looked to sports after his injury. Halsted found Nordic skiing after attending a Veterans Administration Winter Sports Clinic in 2001. After a breakthrough at the 2007 national championships, Halsted found a home on the world cup circuit. In 2008, he finished 16th in the overall standings in only his first full year on the team. Halsted made the 2010 U.S. Paralympic Team, notching two top-10 finishes for Team USA. He and his wife have three children: twins, Rileigh (girl) and Ethan (boy), and a younger daughter, Keelie.

Oksana Masters (Louisville, Ky.)
With partner Rob Jones at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Oksana Masters won the first ever United States medal in trunk and arms mixed double sculls. She was later named the USRowing Female Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Paralympic athlete to earn that distinction. She is now transitioning to Nordic skiing. Masters is on the 2013-14 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Development Team. Abandoned by her birth parents in what is now known as Ukraine, she lived in an a Ukrainian orphanage until she was adopted by an American woman at age 7. Masters was born with several radiation-induced birth defects, including tibial hemimelia.

Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.)
A three-time Paralympian in track and field, with 10 medals to her credit including three golds from the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Tatyana McFadden is one of the most celebrated U.S. Paralympic athletes in recent history. McFadden, who still actively competes in track, was recently named to the 2013-14 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Team after only one season of competition. The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games would mark a homecoming for McFadden, who left Russia nearly 20 years ago. Born with spina bifida in St. Petersburg, McFadden was sent to an orphanage, where without a wheelchair, she was left to walk using her hands for the next six years. In 1994, she was adopted by Debbie McFadden, who was working as the commissioner of disabilities for the United States’ health department, and moved to the United States. Now she is one of the world’s best in two sports. Despite a hectic schedule with both cross-country skiing and track events, McFadden has started 2013 in an impressive fashion, winning the women’s wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon and following that up with a win at the London Marathon in the same week.

Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas)
Andy Soule was attending Texas A&M University as a member of the Corps of Cadets when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. Following 9/11, Soule left school to enlist in the U.S. Army. Soon after basic training, he was deployed to Afghanistan where an improvised explosive device detonated next to Soule's Humvee, resulting in double leg amputation. Looking for a way to stay active, Soule attended a cross-country skiing recruitment camp in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2005. He was instantly hooked on Nordic skiing. On the opening day of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games competition, Soule won the bronze medal in the men’s sitting 2.4-kilometer individual pursuit, becoming the first U.S. athlete to medal in biathlon at the Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games. Soule took the last two years off to study ballistics. Now he is back, eyeing Team USA’s first-ever gold medal in biathlon. Soule won the silver medal in the middle biathlon event at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wis.

Jeremy Wagner (Nanakuli/Honolulu, Hawaii)
In 2007, after spending a year serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserves, Jeremy Wagner returned home, where he was injured in a motorcycle accident. The crash injured his spinal cord and he lost the use of his legs. He was treated at the Veteran Affairs Palo Alto Medical Center’s Spinal Cord Injury Center in California, where a physical therapist introduced him to the VA’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games. While competing in the 2010 Games in Denver, Wagner was approached by a U.S. Paralympics biathlon coach, who urged him to give the winter sport a try. Wagner took a chance and left the sandy beaches of Hawaii for the snowcaps of the Colorado Rockies. He moved in with his cousin in Colorado where he now trains fulltime in biathlon. In June 2012, Wagner was named to the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Team for the first time. He competed at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Championships, Feb. 23-March 5 in Solleftea, Sweden.

Qualification

The International Paralympic Committee allocated the U.S. 17 spots (12 men, five women) in the Nordic skiing (biathlon and cross-country skiing) competition for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. Each National Paralympic Committee can be allocated a maximum of 18 male qualification slots and 12 female qualification slots for Nordic skiing.

For complete qualification criteria, click here.

Selection

All International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup competitions held between Dec. 10, 2012 and Jan. 27, 2014, and the U.S. Adaptive Nordic National Championships, tentatively scheduled for January 2014 at Soldier Hollow, Midway, Utah, will be used in the selection process for the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team. At the time of selection, an athlete must be a national of the United States, with a valid U.S. Passport that will not expire in the six months following the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, and meet the minimum standards of the International Paralympic Committee, as the international governing body for the Paralympic Winter Games and the international federation for Paralympic Nordic skiing.

The U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team will be nominated to the United States Olympic Committee for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games no later than Jan. 31, 2014. The entire 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team will be named no later than Feb. 21, 2014, the deadline to submit delegation rosters to the International Paralympic Committee. 

For complete selection procedures, click here.

Contact

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, is the National Governing Body for Paralympic Nordic skiing. For media inquiries for U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing athletes and staff, please contact Beth Bourgeois or Jamie Blanchard.

Beth Bourgeois

Communications Associate Director, U.S. Paralympics

United States Olympic Committee

719-866-2039

Beth.Bourgeois@usoc.org


Jamie Blanchard

Communications Manager, U.S. Paralympics

United States Olympic Committee

719-866-2068

Jamie.Blanchard@usoc.org

Resources

Revised June 12, 2013