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Four Dual-Sport Athletes Aim To Jump From Summer to Winter Paralympics In Six Months

By Stuart Lieberman | Nov. 24, 2021, 2:15 p.m. (ET)

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in every single athlete’s training plan and competition schedule one way or another, but perhaps nobody’s 2021 calendar has seen as many adjustments as those who are training for both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. 

Four Team USA athletes who took part in the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 are expected to compete six months later — all in Nordic skiing — at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and have had to adjust their plans for this year accordingly. 

Here’s a look at these four athletes and their achievements to this day.

Oksana Masters - Cycling to Nordic

Oksana Masters poses for a portrait during the Team USA Beijing 2022 shoot on Sep. 12, 2021 in Irvine, Calif.

 

With gold medals in the road cycling time trial and road race in Tokyo, Masters became a 10-time Paralympic medalist across three sports. Her first medal, a bronze in 2012, was in rowing. 

She became only the fourth woman, and sixth American overall, to win gold medals at the Summer and Winter Paralympics. She then jetted off to four countries on three continents in the next month, transitioning to her build-up to Beijing in Nordic skiing, where she excels both in cross-country skiing and biathlon. 

Luckily for Masters, she is an avid coffee lover, fueled by caffeine. In her third consecutive Paralympics on the Asian continent and sixth Games overall, she will now try to match her historic performance from PyeongChang four years ago, which resulted in two golds, two silvers and a bronze — all after fracturing her right elbow three weeks prior to the event.

Aaron Pike - Track to Nordic

Aaron Pike poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Sept. 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

 

Masters’ long-time boyfriend and fellow coffee connoisseur, five-time Paralympian Pike, has gone back and forth between track and field and Nordic skiing every other year. He is still in search of his first Paralympic medal, having come as close as sixth place at PyeongChang 2018 in the 15-kilometer biathlon. 

Since then, he has finished third on the snow in the sprint biathlon at the 2019 world championships, in addition to third on the roads at the 2021 Chicago Marathon. He participated in five track and field events in Tokyo, finishing as high as sixth place in the marathon.

Kendall Gretsch - Triathlon to Nordic

Kendall Gretsch celebrates after crossing the finish line in first place in the women's cross country 12km - sitting event during the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.



Triathlon fans are still rewatching Gretsch’s photo finish from Tokyo this summer — it was that good. With a few meters to go in the race, she caught reigning world champion Lauren Parker of Australia right before the finish line to win Paralympic gold by one second. 

That marked her first Summer Games medal, adding to the two golds she already owned in Nordic skiing. Her feat puts her in the same exclusive club as Masters as one of the six Americans who have won gold at both the Summer and Winter Paralympics. In PyeongChang 2018, she won gold in the 6K biathlon and 12K cross-country race and was the first U.S. athlete to medal at those Games on their opening day.

 

Dani Aravich - Track to Nordic

Dani Aravich poses for a portrait during the Team USA Beijing 2022 shoot on Sep. 12, 2021 in Irvine, Calif.

 

Six months after making her Paralympic debut in track and field in Tokyo, the 25-year-old from Idaho will look to do the same in Nordic skiing in Beijing. Born without her left forearm, Aravich played nearly every sport from a young age and eventually competed in Division I track and field and cross country at Butler University. 

In 2019, she caught the attention of a U.S. Paralympic Nordic skiing coach who invited her to a training camp; from there, she became a dual-sport athlete. After competing in the 400-meter T47 sprint in Tokyo, she is now training in Bozeman, Montana, for the Winter Games and has placed as high as fourth on the world cup stage in Nordic skiing.

 

Stuart Lieberman

Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Related Athletes

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Oksana Masters

Nordic Skiing
Cycling
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Aaron Pike

Nordic Skiing
Track and Field
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Kendall Gretsch

Triathlon
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Danielle Aravich

Track and Field