Tatyana McFadden wins silver medal in sprint

By Nick Kiger | March 12, 2014, 6 a.m. (ET)

Silver medalist Tatyana McFadden, gold medalist Mariann Marthisen of Norway and bronze medalist Marta Zaynullina of Russia
Silver medalist Tatyana McFadden, gold medalist Mariann Marthisen of Norway and bronze medalist Marta Zaynullina of Russia following the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games cross-country sprint. 

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – American Paralympic superstar Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.) added another accomplishment to her already storied Paralympic career by winning silver in the 1km sitting cross-country race at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.

McFadden finished the race with a time of 2:45.7, just 0.1 behind Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen, who won gold in what was the most hotly-contested and exciting race of the day at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center.

Russia’s Marta Zaynullina was third with a time of 2:46.6, and American Oksana Masters (Louisville, Ky.), who already won a silver medal in these Games, finished fourth in the race with a time of 2:47.6.

Of the four events Masters has competed in, she has now finished in the top five of three of them.

The race was close from start to finish and played out the way McFadden thought it would, which made sticking to her game plan incredibly important.

“I could not go easy. I needed to go hard from the start,” said McFadden. “I knew that they were coming and I could feel them down my neck. It was a good race.”

This is the 11th Paralympic medal of McFadden’s career but her first ever Paralympic Winter Games medal. McFadden, who is competing in her first ever Paralympic Winter Games, also has 10 Paralympic medals in track & field.

Perhaps more interesting than McFadden winning a medal, however, is that it comes just less than one year after taking up the sport of Nordic skiing.

John Farra, who serves as the head of the U.S. Nordic skiing program and recruited McFadden to the sport, was quick to emphasize how incredible it is for an athlete to medal on the world’s biggest stage after just picking up the sport.  

“It’s pretty amazing for Tatyana to be able to finish what she started. Taking someone from a summer sport, putting them in a sit ski, teaching them to ski effectively and try to have them win a medal for you is a tough task in just one winter of skiing,” admitted Farra. “I am psyched that it worked out. It was a really exciting race.”

McFadden now joins an elite group of athletes who own both summer and winter Paralympic medals, an accomplishment that had not yet sunk in at the end of today’s race.

“I can’t even believe it. My main goal was just to come in and make it to the final,” noted McFadden. “I am just so happy and so proud.”

The U.S. also had a very successful day on the men’s side, as both Andy Soule (San Antonio, Texas) and Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kan.) both made it to the finals of the 1km sitting cross-country final. In another close race, Soule finished fifth with a time of 2:38.0, and Cnossen was sixth with a time of 2:39.9. Russian Roman Petushkov won the race, finishing in 2:29.4.

It was the fourth top-five finish for Soule, an Army veteran, who continues to impress in these Games. It was also the best finish of the Games thus far for Cnossen.

For both Soule and Cnossen who have trained together and are roommates here in Sochi, it was a special moment to race alongside each other in a Paralympic final.

“I was glad to see him (Cnossen) make it into the final right there with me,” said Soule. “We have a really awesome team; I love our team.”

Several other members of Team USA were also in action today but failed to advance to the finals.

The U.S. Paralympic Nordic skiing team will now have a day off from competition before returning to action on March 14 when biathlon events resume.