U.S. Nordic Skiers Begin Quest For Paralympic Success

By Olivia Truby | Dec. 08, 2017, 3:28 p.m. (ET)
Oksana MastersThree-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters, pictured above at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, aims to win her first Paralympic gold in PyeongChang this March.

The U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Team has been on the rise since the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and they don’t plan to slow down any time soon. With PyeongChang 2018 less than 100 days away, Team USA is set to kick off the 2017-18 world cup season on Saturday. The first stop of the world cup circuit will take place in Canmore, Canada (Dec. 9-17), followed by Oberried, Germany (Jan. 20-28, 2018) and finishing up in Vuokatti, Finland (Feb. 2-10).

Expectations are high for the U.S. team after consistent podium performances on the world cup and world championship stages last season. Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky) was crowned world champion for the first time in her career and won an unprecedented four world titles at the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau, Germany. The three-time Paralympian won medals in five women’s sitting events, capturing gold in sprint, middle and long-distance cross-country, sprint biathlon and taking bronze in individual biathlon at the world championships. Masters not only won her first world title, but she made history as the first U.S. woman to win a world title in Nordic skiing since records were maintained.

The U.S. men also had an impressive showing at world championships. Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas) captured silver and bronze medals in Finsterau to put him in good position heading into this season’s world cup circuit. Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minnesota) made strides in 2017 when he had his best-ever showing on the world championship stage, finishing less than three seconds off the podium in fourth in the men’s 15km individual biathlon and recording three other top-10 performances.

During the 2016-17 world cup season, the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Team won 33 world cup medals, a record for the program over the past six seasons. Particularly, Team USA took home 12 world cup medals in biathlon, marking four times as many as the previous year. Masters was a dominant force throughout the season, winning the overall cross-country world cup title for the third time and finishing third overall in biathlon.

Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kansas) won six medals in just eight starts in his return to the world cup circuit, including opening the 2016-17 world cup season in Vuikatti with three medals. Jake Adicoff (Sun Valley, Idaho) and guide Sawyer Kesselheim (Bozeman, Montana) finished last season with three gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the last two world cups. 

Team USA fans can follow the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as they begin their world cup season.