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Nordic Roundup: Women’s Sports Foundation Spotlight Shines On Oksana Masters, Other Paralympians

By Chrös McDougall | Oct. 27, 2020, 11:12 a.m. (ET)

The Women’s Sports Foundation’s annual Salute to Women in Sports earlier this month was forced to take on a virtual format, though once again Para women took a central role in the occasion.

As part of the event, Nordic skier Oksana Masters joined fellow U.S. Paralympians Alana Nichols and Scout Bassett, as well as up-and-coming wheelchair tennis player Joanna Nieh in a segment promoting accessibility equality in sports.

“They’re not seeing us as rowers, they’re not seeing us as athletes, they’re seeing us as people who have no legs, as people who are in wheelchairs, as people who are just doing it for the feel good side of it,” Masters said. “And that wasn’t why I was doing sport. I wanted to compete, and race, and push myself.”

That’s shown as Masters has made the Paralympics in three sports — Nordic skiing, rowing and cycling. Of her eight Paralympic medals, seven have come in Nordic.

The WSF event, which this year highlighted athletes who used their voices to promote equality and social justice, raises money to support girls and women in sports.

Source: Paralympic stars advocate for accessible equality in sports

As part of the publicity around the Salute to Women in Sports, Masters was featured in other articles as well.

On Oct. 15, she shared her inspiring life story in an in-depth, first-person espnW post, where the four-time Paralympian explained how she overcame what seemed like impossible odds over the years.

“After my amputation, it was really hard because I was trying to do things that I physically couldn’t, things that felt impossible,” wrote Masters. “But then, when I was rowing, every time I took my prosthetic legs off and left them at the dock, I felt like I could do everything. There were no limitations at all. That’s when I started to appreciate what my body could do without legs.”

Masters thanked espnW in a tweet, saying she hoped her story would “help ignite the same passion of sports to generations of athletes to come & for all individuals to embrace & love what they see in the mirror”

Source: Paralympian Oksana Masters continues to defy the impossible and inspire the next generation

Masters also spoke with ESPN for an Oct. 21 story about how elite athletes are coping with the one-year postponements of the Paralympic and Olympic Games, especially when it comes to mental health. Masters said she’s been quarantining with boyfriend (and fellow U.S. Paralympian and Nordic skier) Aaron Pike, while also getting plenty of support from her mom and her sponsors.

“It’s really important to embrace change and adapt to the times we’re living in for your mental health,” she told ESPN. “I think this can bring out the best in us.”

Source: Olympic athletes on how they prioritize mental health and hope through the pandemic

Alpine Paralympian Kenny LaCome Keeps His Competitive Spirit Alive In Nordic

Kenny LaCome always liked to go fast, and once he got on a sit ski he learned to fly down snowy mountains fast enough to make the 2002 U.S. Paralympic Team as an alpine skier. These days LaCome, now 60 and living in Questa, New Mexico, is doing a different kind of skiing.

“I figured it is never too late to check out Nordic skiing and, five years after that, I decided to see what cross-country skiing was all about,” LaCome told the Albuquerque Journal in a story published Oct. 25. “A few seasons after that, I started competing in Nordic cross-country skiing and I’ve been doing that for over 10 seasons.”

LaCome won three bronze medals last January at the U.S. championships. This year, with the help of a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, he’s taking to the snow on new equipment.

“I’ve still got that competitive spirit,” LaCome told the paper. “They say that people who end up in chairs, you will get back pretty much to what you were doing with time. I guess that competitive spirit is within. Either it’s within you or it’s not.”

Check out the full story on the Albuquerque Journal website.

Source: Up to the challenge: Taos native Kenny LaCome

Nordic In the News

Among the list of sporting events being called off for 2021 are the Empire State Winter Games in the Lake Placid, New York, region. The event, scheduled for Jan. 28-31, 2021, was to feature amateur competitions in a variety of sports, including adaptive biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey and bobsled. The Empire State Winter Games had been held every year since 1981, the year after Lake Placid hosted its second Olympic Winter Games. …

Source: Empire State Winter Games canceled for 2021

The countdown to the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 is now under 500 days. That milestone was hit on Oct. 20. To mark the occasion the International Paralympics Committee released a video previewing the venues for those Games. …

Aaron Pike, a four-time Paralympian who competes in Nordic skiing and wheelchair marathon, shared his pandemic training regiment with the USOPC’s website, TeamUSA.org. Pike is a member of the 2020-21 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National B Team.

Source: From Country Roads to Basement Gyms: How Aaron Pike Trains During A Pandemic


Chrös McDougall

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 and is a contributor to USParaNordic.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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Oksana Masters

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