What to Watch During The 2016-17 Nordic Skiing Season

By Brianna Tammaro | Dec. 08, 2016, 6 p.m. (ET)
Andy Soule became the first American in history to ever win five medals at the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Cable, Wisconsin. Soule will seek his first world title at this year's championships in Finsterau, Germany, Feb. 11-19.

After 11 months spent in the off-season, the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Program will return to action at the IPC Para Nordic Skiing World Cup opener from Dec. 9-16 in Vuokatti, Finland. This season, athletes will have the opportunity to compete for world titles, world cup points and race at the site of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games for what is setting up to be an exciting look at the U.S. team’s potential heading into PyeongChang.

Before competition gets underway on Friday, see what to watch for during the 2016-17 season:

  • Preparation for PyeongChang: With a little over a year to go until the Winter Games, athletes are focused on making every competition count in what will be a critical countdown. Team USA will trek across Europe and Asia to compete in world cups, world championships and a test event at the same venue athletes will see in 2018.
  • Keeping the streak alive: Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky) had a perfect season in cross-country competition to finish the 2015-2016 campaign as the overall world cup champion and win the overall cross-country title. Masters, who won a bronze medal in rowing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, is coming off having competed in a second summer sport, handcycling, in Rio. Since then, the Sochi 2014 silver and bronze medalist has focused her attention back to the snow with a recommitment to the sport and hopes to continue where she left off.
  • Can Andy Soule repeat his success from Cable?: Two-time Paralympian Andy Soule (San Antonio, Texas) made history at the 2015 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships when he won the most medals ever (five) by a U.S. athlete. Soule took three silver and two bronze medals on home snow in Cable, Wisconsin to finish the year as the world’s fourth-ranked sit-skier in cross-country and fifth in biathlon. With the 2016 edition of the world championships being hosted in Finsterau, Germany from Feb. 11-19, Soule will be the one to watch as he seeks to build on his success from 2015.

Follow results from this week’s world cup opener in Vuokatti on the IPC Para Nordic Skiing website.