Roundup: Masters Earns Top Winter Honors At PARA SPORT Awards
by Alex Abrams
Every other week we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para Nordic skiing. Here’s what you missed!
Oksana Masters Named Best Female Winter Athlete
Oksana Masters has earned plenty of titles as a multi-sport star, and she recently added a new one to her list.
Masters, the most decorated U.S. Winter Paralympian of all time, was named the Best Female Winter Athlete at the inaugural PARA Sport Awards on Sept. 27 in Manama, Bahrain.
Masters received the award following her record-breaking performance as a sit skier at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. She medaled in all seven events she competed in, including two golds in the biathlon and another gold in cross-country skiing.
Masters is a 17-time Paralympic medalist in Nordic skiing, cycling and rowing. She competed in Beijing only six months after winning a pair of golds in cycling at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Josh Sweeney Wins at USA Cycling Gravel Nationals
Josh Sweeney has found that handcycling on unpaved, gravel roads helps him stay in shape in the offseason and prepare for the hilly courses used in Para Nordic skiing.
The two-time Paralympian has taken his gravel cycling to another level.
On Sept. 9, Sweeney won the men’s Para H5 category at the inaugural USA Cycling Gravel National Championships in Gering, Nebraska. He wrote on Instagram that he completed the 56-mile course in 4 hours, 21 minutes despite the windy conditions.
“Thank you to everyone that made this possible and I look forward to competing again next year!” Sweeney wrote.
Sweeney made the transition to Para Nordic skiing after winning a gold medal as a member of the U.S. sled hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics.
Dani Aravich Shares Her Own “Timeline” As An Athlete
Dani Aravich ran cross country at Butler University before she decided to quit and eventually put her focus on Para Nordic skiing.
Aravich shared on Instagram a conversation she had with her ski coach about her reasons for deciding to stop running in college. She admitted she wasn’t mature enough to handle the commitment, but she doesn’t regret her decision.
“I’m glad I had those years of being young and dumb because I think it equipped me for the level of elite sport I’d arrive at in my mid-twenties,” Aravich wrote. “Everyone’s timeline is different. For me, I’m 27 years of age, but only in Year 4 of chasing the Paralympics.
“So who knows, maybe I’ll peak when I hit year 10 of my Paralympic age.”
Aravich made her Paralympic debut as a sprinter at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, then qualified for the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics only a few months later. She has since stopped competing in track and field to dedicate herself entirely to Nordic skiing.
New Para Nordic Skiing Season Quickly Approaching
There are signs that the upcoming Para Nordic skiing season is starting soon.
The official Instagram account for U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing posted a short video of six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike making his way over snow in his sit ski. The words “Winter is coming” appear on the video.
Alex Abrams has written about Olympic sports for more than 15 years, including as a reporter for major newspapers in Florida, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He is a freelance contributor to USParaNordicSkiing.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.