By Eric Gissendanner
SOCHI — Three United States Paralympians across four races took to the course at the Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Center on Monday. Jacob Adicoff was the highest finishing American when placed sixth in 58:37 during the Men’s 20K Visually Impaired competition. Kevin Burton clocked in at 1:07:18, finishing 10th. Meanwhile, in the 20K Standing, John Oman skied to an 18th place finish in 1:17:04. No women competed for the United States during Monday’s cross country events.
Monday’s first race began at 10 a.m. local time with the Men’s 20K Standing. The race course was four kilometers, so skiers needed to complete five laps. Instead of racing in one pack and jockeying for position late in the race, competitors post overall times and the top three times sit atop the medal podium. Per international rules, long distance racers leave the starting line in 30-second intervals.
Oman was the third overall skier off the line and eclipsed the halfway mark in 40 minutes. He then rounded the final turn and sprinted the final 100 meters in front of a roaring crowd made up mostly of Russian spectators. Oman was the lone American to compete during the Standing race.
Following the Standing, racers lined up for the Men’s Visually Impaired event. Highlighted by world-renowned Canadian skier, Brian McKeever, the Americans fared well in the race. Adicoff and Burton donned American colors, with Adicoff finishing just 15 seconds from a top-five spot. The end result was a pay-off for Adicoff, who steadily worked his way up the leaderboard. After the initial four kilometers, Adicoff was eighth overall, but clipped off more time as he advanced one spot following each four-kilometer interval. His strongest run came during the final four kilometer stretch when he reached the finish line in 11:27.
Adicoff was not alone, though, as fellow American Burton gave the United States its second top-10 finisher. Burton was 11th overall following the midway point, but picked up time and passed Finland’s Rudolf Klemetti for the 10th position.
All cross country skiers have off Tuesday, but will be back in full action with semifinal and final heats on Wednesday.