Written by Eric Gissendanner
SOCHI — The United States finally reached the Paralympic podium on Wednesday when Tatyana McFadden won silver in the women’s 1K Sprint, Sitting. Other top-10 finishers for the day included: Oksana Masters (fourth in women’s 1K Sprint), Andrew Soule (fifth in men’s 15K Sitting and fifth in 1K Sprint, Sitting), Sean Halstead (ninth in 15K Sitting), Jacob Adicoff (eighth in 1K Sprint, Visually Impaired) and Daniel Cnossen (sixth in 1K Sprint, Sitting). All events took place at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center.
Men’s 1K Sprint, Sitting: This event was a straight one-lap race around the course. Twelve total skiers were split into two six-person semifinal groups. The top-three finishers in those groups then advanced to the final round. Cnossen and Soule both edged the cut as they skied to third place finishes in their semifinal runs. In the final heat, Soule brought home a top-five finish, while Cnossen trailed 1.9 seconds behind for a sixth-place run. These two skiers were not totally alone as American athletes in this event. Aaron Pike (14th), Jeremy Wagner (15th), Halstead (17th) and Travis Dodson (19th) all raced, but failed to make it past the qualification round.
Men’s 1K Sprint, Standing: Athletes in this event must pass through a qualification and semifinal round to reach the finals. Americans Omar Bermejo (30th) and John Oman (31st) were unable to make it through the qualification heat.
Men’s 1K Sprint, Visually Impaired: The format was the same as the previously mentioned event —a one-lap shootout. Adicoff was the lone American to compete in this event, but missed the cut after finishing fourth in his semifinal run. All skiers in this event have a visual impairment. Adicoff’s placement in the B3 sport class means that he has the least severe visual impairment eligible for Nordic skiing. Adicoff was joined by Burton (14th) in the event.
Women’s 1K Sprint, Sitting: This was the highlight event for the Americans on Tuesday. After both placing second in their semifinal round heats, Masters and McFadden advanced to the finals. In the finals, McFadden narrowly missed the gold medal after finishing just 0.1 second behind Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen. Masters nearly joined her American teammate on the podium, but finished one second bronze medalist Russia’s Marta Zaynullina. Other American athletes in the event included Monica Bascio (18th) and Beth Requist (19th) who were unable to advance through qualification.