U.S. Nordic Skiers Prepare For Success At World Championships

By Stafford Braxton | Feb. 09, 2017, 5:08 p.m. (ET)


Three-time Paralympian, Oksana Masters, looks to continue her world cup success at the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau, Germany. 

As the last major competition before the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Team USA will look to rise to the podium this week at the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau, Germany, from Feb. 10–19.

With a strong showing at the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Cable, Wisconsin., Team USA looks to focus on the success of the biathlon program in which Oksana Masters is currently ranked No. 2 in the world among the women in the sitting class, with Andy Soule sitting in the No. 5 spot in men’s sitting.

“We are excited to bring a new biathlon head coach to world championships this year,” said John Farra, high performance director for U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing. “Gary Colliander, who was working with the women's Olympic biathlon team in Vancouver, has signed on with us to help us moved our biathlon program forward.”

All three members of the U.S. team also competed at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. Masters (Louisville, Kentucky), Soule (Army/Pearland, Texas), and Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minnesota) will represent Team USA in the biathlon and cross-country skiing events taking place over the course of nine days.

Masters, a three-time Paralympic medalist in Nordic skiing and rowing had a strong start to the 2016-17 campaign in Vuokatti, Finland, where she earned four gold medals and one silver at the first world cup of the season. Masters will participate in all events, focusing her energy on her most notable events, the 5-kilometer and 1km cross-country competitions, where she won silver and bronze medals at the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Cable.

At the 2015 World Championships, Andy Soule left the competition with five medals, becoming the most decorated U.S. skier in history. This year, the two-time Paralympian will fight for the top podium spot after taking three silver and two bronze medals home two years go.

Three-time Paralympian, Pike, will focus his attention on the sprint races in hopes of securing his first world championships medal. He is currently ranked No. 13 in world cup standings in biathlon and No. 19 in cross-country in men’s sitting.   

An estimated 120 athletes from 19 countries will compete in biathlon and cross-country races at the competition, which marks the final world championship before the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

Biathlon competition will begin on Saturday, Feb. 11 and continue through Saturday, Feb. 18, with cross-country being contested from Sunday, Feb. 12 through Monday, Feb. 19.

Follow live results on the Finsterau 2017 website and U.S. Paralympics on Facebook and Twitter for Team USA updates.