Weather Doesn’t Dampen Team USA’s Performance At The IPC Cross Country Skiing Event

By Beth Bourgeois | Jan. 12, 2016, 3:44 p.m. (ET)

Andy Soule, pictured at the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, won multiple national titles in Vermont

CRAFTSBURY COMMON, Vt. – The 2016 IPC Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon NorAm Cup wrapped up a day earlier than originally planned due to unforeseen weather forecasted for January 10. Despite the modified schedule, U.S. athletes performed well, securing first place finishes in 19 of 20 events on the competition schedule. The competition also served as Team USA’s national championships. 

“The competition was fantastic, and we are very pleased with the progress we have seen with some of the new athletes who attended, and happy with where the top national team athletes are performing at this point in the season,” said Eileen Carey, head coach, U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing program. “By all accounts we are excited about how Team USA performed and are looking forward to seeing what the rest of the 2016 season brings.”

In the men’s competition, there were standout performances from two-time Paralympian Andy Soule (San Antonio, Texas), who got the momentum started for Team USA with a win in the mid-distance freestyle sitting completion, clocking in at 23:45.40 in the 7.5-kilometer race. He was followed by Sean Halsted (Spokane, Washington) in 24:10.08, and Aaron Pike rounded out third place on the podium in 25:32.54.

Soule, Halsted and Pike traded places throughout the course of the competition. In the short-distance freestyle sitting event it was Halsted who finished first in 7:07.93, Soule came in second in 7:10.73 and Pike landed in third in 7:28.04.

In the men’s sprint, Soule again landed on top, with Bryan Price (Melton, Missouri) in second, followed by Sean Halsted. Pike was once again in the mix, finishing just off the podium in fourth. But Pike got his turn later in the competition atop the podium in the sitting 6.5k, where he finished in first place in 29:54.25 beating out Collin Cameron from Canada who finished in second, and U.S. hopeful Peter Way in third.

In the women’s competition, Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky) dominated the field in the sit competition; she went five for five finishing first in the 5k, 2.5k, the cross country sprint, the biathlon sprint, and the 6.5k biathlon event.

Joy Rondeau (Winter Park, Colorado), who is training with the National Center for the Disabled, made quite the impression in her first IPC NorAm and U.S. Nationals competitions. Rondeau finished in second behind Masters in the women’s 2.5k, 5k, sprint, and 6.5k. Coaches say she’s definitely one to keep on eye on moving forward.

Up next for the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing National Team is a trip to Pyeongchang for the IPC Asian Cup competition and its first look at the venue for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.