With all the hustle and bustle around the 2014 Winter Olympics, some people may forget another huge event that is happening just two weeks after the closing ceremonies: the Paralympic Winter Games, running March 7 to 16 in Sochi, Russia! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing information and stories on the Paralympics to get you ready to root for Team USA!
The next sport we will be detailing is Nordic Skiing, which is flat surface skiing and includes events such as the biathlon and cross-country skiing. The biathlon was introduced for the Paralympic Games in 1988 for athletes with a physical impairment and in 1992 for athletes with a visual impairment. Cross-country first appeared in 1976 and is open for athletes with a physical impairment and blindness/visual impairment. Team USA is sending 17 Nordic skiers this year, which are 11 more than those who competed at the Vancouver Games. Like alpine skiing, there are several stars competing in these Olympics as Nordic skiers. Today’ we’re going to introduce you to a few.
Andy Soule. US Army vet Andy Soule became the first US biathlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games in 2010 when he claimed bronze in men’s sitting 2.4-kilo individual pursuit. Soule was injured in Afghanistan, and is returning to Sochi in hopes of a gold medal.
Dan Cnossen. In the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Nordic World Cup, the US won 13 medals giving them high hopes heading in to Sochi. The World Cup was held in Cable, Wisconsin, with Navy Lieutenant Commander Dan Cnossen leading America with two medals in biathlon and two in cross-country. Cnossen stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan resulting in the amputation of both legs, and now he is competing in the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.
Oksana Masters. Another interesting star is Oksana Masters, how has competed as a rower and is now trying her hand at Nordic Skiing. Masters has appeared in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue and is a Ukrainian adoptee. She won a bronze medal in London and she also won a bronze medal in cross-country at the world cup in 2013.
Tatyana McFadden. Another multi-sport star is Tatyana McFadden, nicknamed “The Beast.” She is the first woman to win six IPC Athletics world titles in 2013, then became the first to win all four major marathons (Boston, London, Chicago, and New York). She is now focused on the winter games, trying her hand at biathlon and cross-country.
Monica Bascio. Monica Bascio, who is famous for cycling and winning the 2012-2013 United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Sports Woman of the Year for going undefeated in road cycling on the World Cup Series and the world championships. She retired from cycling in the summer of 2013, and is now competing in cross-country for the winter games.
With all this star power on Team USA for Nordic Skiers, should be an exciting 2014 Winter Paralympic Games! Do you think Team USA can bring home a gold medal in Nordic Skiing? Which athlete has the best chance of winning? Answer below in the comments.