Sam Wood, Oksana Masters, Sydney Peterson, Jake Adicoff and Dan Cnossen celebrate after winning the para cross-country 4x2.5-kilometer mixed relay at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 13, 2022 in Beijing.
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Team USA won its first-ever mixed relay gold to close out the cross-country competition at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Sunday at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre in Zhangjiakou, China.
Team USA’s 4x2.5-kilometer mixed relay featured Oksana Masters, Sydney Peterson, Dan Cnossen and Jake Adicoff guided by Sam Wood. They stormed to a 25:59.3 gold-medal finish.
China took silver in 26:25.3, and Team Canada captured bronze in 27:00.6. Defending world and Paralympic champions Ukraine finished fourth.
“I could not be more proud and more excited," Cnossen said. “Really, it's an honor to be part of this team knowing the caliber of athletes that I got to ski with.”
Cnossen, 41, became the most seasoned medalist for Team USA in Beijing. The gold-medal win also earned Masters a place in the history books as the most decorated U.S. Winter Paralympian with 14 career Winter Paralympic medals.
The relays were the only team events on the Para cross-country skiing program. The mixed relay featured four fast 2.5-kilometer laps that can be skied by an alternating team of two, three or four skiers and at least one man and one woman.
Masters raced a strong first leg to hand off to now three-time Paralympic medalist Peterson for leg two. Cnossen skied leg three to hold Team USA in fourth place. Adicoff and Wood turned up the heat for the final lap, rocketing into first place and never looking back.
“We started that so hot, “Adicoff said. “We were just really gas in the beginning, no holding back in the first part. By the time we were at the top of the course, we skied into the lead. From there, we just had to stay on our feet and bring it home. Getting that energy from our teammates for that first part of the race was critical.”
MIXED RELAY GOLD 🥇@USParaNordic x #WinterParalympics pic.twitter.com/uNAJd1Hrhz
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) March 13, 2022
The American team competed with athletes across the sitting, standing and visually impaired classifications. The team felt confident coming into the race after strong podium performances across each classification over the last eight days of Paralympic competition.
"It's not just one athlete carrying the load,” Cnossen said. “We have really, really strong athletes in all the categories. For me, I didn't have some of the individual success here that I've had in the past, but it just goes to show when you get to be part of a team that lifts the performance.”
“It's so much better being part of a team,” Peterson said. “There were five of us out there today, and I think all of us had great races. Thanks to everyone else supporting us back home and all the Team USA staff here supporting us.”