JEONGSEON, South Korea—Ski fast and shoot straight, the mantra of all Biathletes could be heard all over the venue at Alpensia Biathlon Center today. The Nordic ski venue was shaped to perfection, the groomed snow was an exquisite corduroy texture, the bright blue V-boards marked off the notorious 120-meter penalty loop, and the shooting range sat rifle ready.
Team US hit the 12.5km course with five sit skiers and one athlete in the standing men events. Ruslan Reiter in the LW8 standing men’s class is making his Paralympic debut by giving it his all in this challenging event finishing 11th out of field of 14.
Team USA’s Gold medalist in the short distance Biathlon, Kendall Gretsch started the race in the 5th position and shot 1+0+0+2 to finish in 4th position over all. Her teammate Oksana Masters, Silver medalist from the previous short event was the final competitor to start the 10km. She appeared at the race start wearing a sleek bionic looking carbon brace on her left arm for support. She struggled with her shooting, which almost never happens and ultimately she would drop out of the race after a fall on course.
Dan Cnossen and Andy Soule, both LW12 class sit skiers are no strangers to the podium and today would find them there once again. In the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games, Andy became the first American sit skier to earn a medal in Biathlon. Since that day Andy has stayed out of the medals, until today, when he earned the Bronze in his best race of this series so far and he said:
“It’s a great feeling. I’m really excited, really proud to be a part of this team. Probably the best sports team I could possibly dream of being involved with, so I’m really excited, really thankful for all the great support I got here.”
The rest of the Americans were sprinkled among the file with Aaron Pike in 7th, Sean Halsted on 14th and Bryan Price in the 16th position.
Saving the best for last, a day every biathlete dreams of, skiing fast and shooting straight, clean targets all the way through and Team USA’s Dan Cnossen did just that to win the Silver medal. Dan is definitely having a Games with three medals in three events, one Gold and two Silvers and he shared his excitement, “For me, this was a big breakthrough. This is only the second time I’ve ever shot clean in a four-stage, 20-shot race. And to do it in a Paralympics, I feel like I really overcame a big mental hurdle. For me this means a lot, internally. I’m so proud of this, that I shot so well under pressure”.
The next Nordic event, a Sprint Classic race, held on March 14th, 2018.