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.
Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen reflects how on his military service with the @USNavy contributed to his Paralympic success. ⬇️— U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum (@USOPMuseum) November 14, 2020
We're celebrating #VeteransDay all week long with free admission for all veteran and active duty service members from November 11-15 with a valid ID.@TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/cssKTdQzFR
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 women’s sitting 5-kilometer race.
Without a doubt! In absence of her main rival @OksanaMasters, Kendall Gretsch got an easy victory on a cloudy Friday morning. @USParaNordic 💪— Para Snow Sports (@ParaSnowSports) February 7, 2020
Women CC 5km, sitting:
🥇 Kendall Gretsch🇺🇸
🥈 Irina Guliaeva🇷🇺
🥉 Marta Zainnulina🇷🇺#ParaNordic #ParaSnowSports #Finsterau2020 pic.twitter.com/lyI2ONCDIu
The following day, she won the women’s sitting 10K to earn her second consecutive win in Finsterau.
Kendall Gretsch ending her season in cross-country with two victories in a row! We wish her luck in trying to qualify for #Tokyo2020!— Para Snow Sports (@ParaSnowSports) February 8, 2020
Women CC 10km, sitting:
🥇 Kendall Gretsch🇺🇸
🥈 Irina Guliaeva🇷🇺
🥉 Natalia Kocherova🇷🇺#ParaNordic #ParaSnowSports #Finsterau2020 pic.twitter.com/9L8hoaEoFU
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 Berlin’s 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.
Congratulations, Oksana! 🎉 @OksanaMasters is crowned Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. 🏆 — Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) February 18, 2020
📸: @gettyimages | #Laureus20 pic.twitter.com/4uMEfoOfn7
The significance of the award didn’t 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. “It’s 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 didn’t 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 he’s 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 he’s not against a good challenge like the biathlon.
“I like it because it’s so hard. You have to train more and not just for skiing, but for shooting, too,” Reiter said. “I like to be challenged.”
Biathlete Ruslan Reiter is not afraid to lean into a good challenge. #WisdomWednesday pic.twitter.com/f6xhXA67R3— U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing (@USParaNordic) September 9, 2020
While Reiter doesn’t 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 it’s a good thing she doesn’t 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.