Nordic Roundup: Kendall Gretsch Qualifies For Tokyo In Paratriathlon
by Alex Abrams
Kendall Gretsch in Slovenia in March 2021. (Photo: Dani Aravich)
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!
‘Fab Four’ From Para Nordic Skiing Qualify For Tokyo
Kendall Gretsch will have several familiar faces with her in Tokyo this summer, and the same group could join her next year in Beijing.
Gretsch, a two-time gold medalist in Para Nordic skiing, was named Tuesday to the U.S. paratriathlon team that will compete at the Tokyo Paralympics from Aug. 28-29.
Gretsch is one of four members of the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National and Development Teams to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics, joining Oksana Masters (Para-cycling) and Aaron Pike and Dani Aravich (Para track and field).
Gretsch was the last of the “Fab Four” — as U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing referred to them on social media — to receive the good news about earning a spot in Tokyo.
Fab Four 🤩— U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing (@USParaNordic) July 6, 2021
Kendall Gretsch (@KendallGretsch) has officially ~qualified~ for #Tokyo2020!
Gretsch joins Nordic teammates Oksana Masters (@OksanaMasters), Aaron Pike (@Pikester86) and Dani Aravich (@theonearmdan) on the Tokyo Paralympic team!#ShowTheWorld // #TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/TDkReGMMHv
Gretsch, Masters, Pike and Aravich will attempt an exhausting feat over the next few months. They’ll compete in Tokyo this summer and then quickly turn around and try to qualify in Para Nordic skiing for the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics in March.
In the meantime, they’re enjoying the moment.
“It’s official. I’ve made my 5th Paralympic Games and will be doing all I can to get on the podium!” Pike wrote on Instagram. “Happy for teammates who have made their first team and the ones I’ve made the Paralympics with in the past! #teamusa”
Aravich commented on Pike’s post, “Can’t wait to be with you for this journey!”
Oksana Masters Turns Her Attention To The ESPYS
Oksana Masters has had plenty of reasons to celebrate lately, and there could be even more coming her way this weekend.
Masters is one of four athletes who are nominated for Best Athlete WithA Disability in Women’s Sports at this year’s ESPYS, which airs on ABC at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday.
Masters is up against her Para-cycling teammate, Samantha Bosco, who was involved in a serious bike accident while training for the Tokyo Paralympics. Para swimmer Leanne Smith and wheelchair basketball player Becca Murray are the other nominees in the category.
Fans have until Friday to vote for Masters to win the ESPY award.
Still in amazement to be nominated for @espn #ESPYS award for Best Athlete With A Disability alongside such incredible women. Thankful to be able to line up on start line in @USParaNordic & @usparacycling season. 3️⃣ days left to🗳⤵️ https://t.co/akxWJqTpRh— Oksana Masters (@OksanaMasters) July 6, 2021
Masters’ well-documented journey to the Paralympics included a medical procedure two months ago. On Tuesday, she shared a video on Instagram that shows her slowly pushing herself in a wheelchair through a hospital.
“8 weeks ago today my journey to Tokyo included an unexpected surgery. It was the toughest decision I had to make putting my health over sports,” Masters wrote on Instagram. “I haven’t been able to wear my prosthetic legs since & I am finally getting close to putting them on for the first time soon.”
Masters then thanked Aaron Pike, her longtime boyfriend and her teammate on the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Team. She wrote that Pike has allowed her to use his wheelchair until she’s able to walk again with her prosthetic legs.
“I am so grateful to be able to share this journey with you to #Tokyo2020 and still make time to throw some axes,” Masters wrote. “Things don’t always go to plan. But like Aaron reminds everyday, focus on the things you can control, and the rest will fall into place.”
Lillehammer 2021 Will Include Para Nordic Skiing Camp
World Para Snow Sports is expected to hold a Para Nordic skiing camp prior to the start of the inaugural World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, in January.
Lillehammer 2021, the official name of the competition, will mark the first time that the world championships for Para Nordic skiing, Para alpine skiing and Para snowboard are hosted at the same time in the same city.