Three Things To Know Ahead Of The 2016 IPC Nordic Skiing Asian Cup

By Brianna Tammaro | Jan. 27, 2016, 4:56 p.m. (ET)

Andy Soule tests the snow at the site of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games

The U.S. Nordic Skiing Team will compete in PyeongChang, South Korea for the first time since the city was named the site of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games at the 2016 IPC Nordic Skiing Asian Cup. Although the field is smaller at the continental competition, Team USA will have its chance to take on Russia, South Korea, Japan, China and Canada from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1 before the big show on the same snow in two years. Before races begin Thursday, key in on the top storylines to know as Team USA gears up for the world cup circuit.

Testing out the trails: Team USA will have its first opportunity this week to compete on PyeongChang soil…or snow, rather. The site of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games will host 43 athletes from six countries for the 2016 IPC Nordic Skiing Asian Cup and will be a great opportunity for teams to test out the trails and venues. The courses at the Alpensia Biathlon and Cross-Country Ski Center take place on and around replica golf courses where each of the 18 holes replicates some of the most famous ones from around the world, including the 17th hole from the renowned old course at St. Andrews in Scotland. Although the courses will be cut and finalized this summer in preparation for the Nordic skiing test event in March 2017, athletes will get a feel of what to expect come wintertime in two years.

Riding momentum: Ahead of international competition, the U.S. kicked off the winter season at home in early January with the 2016 IPC Cross-Country Skiing and Biathlon NorAm Cup. Over 20 athletes of all levels, including national team members, gathered in Craftsbury, Vermont for the event that also served as the U.S. national championships. Team USA athletes performed well, securing first place finishes in 19 of 20 events on the competition schedule led by Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky) who went five for five in the sitting events. Masters dominated the field, finishing first in the 5-kilometer, 2.5 km, the cross country sprint, the biathlon sprint, and the 6.5 km biathlon event.

Top competition: Six nations will bring their best athletes competing in cross country and biathlon, including several Paralympic champions. Andy Soule (San Antonio, Texas) will face fierce competition in the men’s sitting events from Canada’s Chris Klebl who is the Paralympic gold medalist in the middle distance cross-country. Russia’s six-time Paralympic champion Roman Petushkov will also challenge Soule in the long distance biathlon. Soule is one to beat in PyeongChang after he made history in 2015 at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Cable, Wisconsin as the first U.S. skier to win five medals at a world championships. Masters will be tested in the women’s sitting long-distance biathlon by Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova, the Paralympic champion in the event.

Cross-country races will take place Jan. 27-29 followed by biathlon Jan. 30-Feb. 1.  Results will be available at IPC Nordic Skiing’s website.