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Through It All, Team USA’s Nordic Skiers Made The Most Of 2020

By Alex Abrams | Jan. 02, 2021, 7:17 p.m. (ET)

The members of the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Team had to find new ways to train and keep themselves busy in 2020 with races across the globe cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

From training to traveling to just having fun, the seven U.S. skiers indeed made the most of it.

As 2020 comes to a close, we scoured the web to find how the members of the U.S. Para Nordic skiing team spent the year. Here are some of the highlights!

Dan Cnossen Recognized For His Military Service

Dan Cnossen learned to focus on the challenges immediately ahead of him while going through Hell Week as part of Navy SEAL training.

Cnossen, who lost both his legs just above the knee while serving as a platoon commander in Afghanistan, was recognized on Veterans Day by the new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum. In an interview, Cnossen talked about the similarities between being a Navy SEAL and a Paralympian, including the discipline that both require.

Cnossen earned six medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, including a gold in the biathlon. Before that, he was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor for his service in combat.

Kendall Gretsch Enjoyed Her Time in Finsterau 

Kendall Gretsch had plenty of reasons to smile at the Para Nordic Skiing World Cup in Finsterau, Germany, in February.

She spent the week winning races to cap her cross-country skiing season and  cruised to a victory in the womens sitting 5-kilometer race.

The following day, she won the womens sitting 10K to earn her second consecutive win in Finsterau.


A two-time Paralympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing, Gretsch is also training to compete in the paratriathlon at next year's Tokyo Paralympics.

Oksana Masters Honored As Sportsperson Of The Year

Oksana Masters was shaking and appeared on the verge of crying as she took the stage inside Berlins Verti Music Hall in February.

Masters celebrated the most successful year in her athletic career by being named the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.

The significance of the award didnt get lost on Masters, a four-time Paralympian in three sports. The honor came after a year in which she won five gold medals and a silver at the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships. She also earned an overall cross-country skiing world cup title.

Representation is so important. I know what it means to have somebody who looks like you and is like you,” she said. Its the world.”                                 

Aaron Pike Takes 2020 In Stride

Aaron Pike seemed to maintain a positive outlook during a difficult year and take everything in stride.

Pike didnt mope around about races being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. He instead went skiing.



Pike, a Paralympian in both Nordic and track and field,  also encouraged his Instagram followers to wear both a face mask during the pandemic and vote during the presidential election by sharing photos with Masters, who hes in a relationship with.



Even while kayaking, Pike offered a tip and some wisdom with a photo of himself that included the comment: Head winds are tough, but paddling up river.”



Ruslan Reiter Is Up For a Challenge

Ruslan Reiter was the youngest member of the 2018 U.S. Nordic skiing team PyeongChang, and hes not against a good challenge like the biathlon.


I like it because its so hard. You have to train more and not just for skiing, but for shooting, too,” Reiter said. I like to be challenged.”



While Reiter doesnt post regularly on social media like some of his American teammates, he has been known to stay in shape and train during the summer by riding his modified mountain bicycle around Montana.

We met a mechanic in town to try to figure out how to set up those brakes on one of his handlebars,” said Nick Michaud, a development team coach for U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing.

Read more about Reiter's story here. 

Joy Rondeau Provides Scenes From Colorado

Joy Rondeau managed to get in some Joy-riding,” as she called it, in March.

Rondeau spelled her first name in the snow while training in Granby, Colorado. She was having a little fun, and its a good thing she doesnt have a long first name like some of her teammates.


Five months later, in August, Rondeau shared a much different scene in Granby. The horizon over the mountains was red and thick with smoke because of the Colorado wildfires that have taken a toll on the area.



Grace Miller Tours the World

With races cancelled because of the pandemic, Grace Miller did her share of traveling throughout the year.

She picked pine cones at midnight and jumped in a mountain lake. She also danced on the beach during a road trip from Washington to California in November.



Miller documented her travels on Instagram. She went from standing in snow to hiking on mountains. She even managed to spend time in a field of sunflowers.


Alex Abrams

Alex Abrams has written about Olympic sports for more than 15 years, including as a reporter for major newspapers in Florida, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He is a freelance contributor to USParaNordicSkiing.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.