Dani Aravich poses for a photo during the women's sprint biathlon during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 5, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – You could hear Dani Aravich’s high-pitched shriek from the stands on Wednesday, her enthusiasm reverberating around the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre finish area as she finished within the top three in her qualifying heat to advance to the semifinals in the women’s cross-country sprint standing event.
The 25-year-old from Boise, Idaho, was all smiles, nearly shell shocked to advance and go on to record her highest finish in three races thus far at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, taking eighth.
Born missing most of her left arm below the elbow, Aravich only started training as a Para track and field athlete in 2019 and shortly thereafter took up Nordic skiing. She became the first athlete to make dual debuts at the summer and winter Paralympics such a short of a time period – only six months apart.
Aravich failed to surpass the qualifying heats in the 400 meters on the track in Tokyo, so was elated when she did so in Zhangjiakou.
“I set the goal for myself to make the semifinals today,” she said. “I didn’t have the best start and lost the pack in my semifinal, but I was happy I was able to move up from sixth place at least into fourth (in the semifinal).
“This is my second season competitively skiing so it’s kind of nice to have no expectations on me and to take these Games as a learning experience to grow. The turnaround from Tokyo has been quicker than expected, though. It’s been pretty tough. Last summer I had to make sacrifices for both sports in order to not put myself too far behind for either one.”
Aravich, who earlier in the week was 11th in the middle-distance biathlon and 13th in the sprint biathlon, is one of four U.S. Nordic skiing athletes racing at these Paralympics who competed in a different sport in Tokyo last summer, alongside 14-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters (cycling), five-time Paralympic medalist Kendall Gretsch (triathlon) and six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike (track and field).