CANMORE, Alberta – The U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Team raced in cross-country sprint events at the International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup on Tuesday, as Oksana Masters (Louisville, Ky.) led the way again with a fourth-place finish.
Tuesday’s competition began with a qualifying lap on the 1-kilometer course, with the top finishers then advancing to the semifinals.
Masters, who earned her first world cup podium on Monday with a bronze in the 5-kilometer women’s sit-ski race, recorded the third-fastest qualifying time and won her semifinals heat. In the finals, however, Masters ran into some bad luck as she was hit by a competitor and crashed. She was able to regain enough momentum to finish fourth overall on the day.
Also reaching the semifinals in the women’s sit-ski division was Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.), who earned the seventh-fastest qualifying time but did not advance to the finals.
In the men’s sit-ski division, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kan.) recorded the fifth-fastest qualifier time but crashed shortly after the start of the semifinal and was knocked out of contention.
Vancouver 2010 Paralympic bronze medalist Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), an Army veteran, reached the semifinals with the seventh-fastest qualifying time. 2010 U.S. Paralympian and Air Force veteran Sean Halsted also advanced with the 10th-fastest qualifying time. Neither reached the final round.
No Team USA athletes in standing or visually-impaired classifications advanced beyond the qualifier, though U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing High Performance Director John Farra said the day was still a worthwhile learning experience for the entire team.
“All of our athletes are developing very fast, and this kind of sprinting experience against the world’s best athletes is invaluable,” Farra said. “Those who did not make the heats came out to watch and see what tactics and strategies the top athletes are using in the heats.”
The IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup continues in Canmore through Dec. 17, with the cross-country portion concluding Dec. 12 and the biathlon portion set for Dec. 14-17.
The U.S. team that will compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be named no later than Jan. 31, 2014, and will be determined on a points system that includes world cup results throughout the season.
Team USA will send 17 athletes in total to compete in Nordic skiing events in Sochi, a significant increase from the six-member team that competed at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
For more information, please contact Caryn Maconi, U.S. Paralympics, at 719-866-2196 or Caryn.Maconi@usoc.org.