Gretsch leads Team USA with a historic third gold in Lillehammer
by U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing
Kendall Gretsch competes in the Lillehammer 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships.
LILLEHAMMER, NORWAY – There’s no stopping three-time Paralympic champion Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Illinois), who picked up her third world title at the Lillehammer 2021 Para Snow Sports World Championships Thursday afternoon with a win in the women’s sitting individual biathlon. Gretsch led the event from start to finish and clocked a time of 52:25, nearly two minutes ahead of RPC’s silver medalist Natalia Kocherova. The Illinois native has battled her way to a historic four podium finishes with a medal in every event she’s competed in including three gold and one silver, and will complete her run in Lillehammer with the cross-country sprint and team relay.
“I think it’s been a really good competition for our whole team, it’s exciting leading into Beijing so hopefully it just means more good things for us,” said Gretsch. “I’m really happy about this one especially with the wind, it made the whole thing race exciting.”
Not far behind was 10-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky) who took home her second bronze and fourth overall medal at the championships. Even though it was another tough day of shooting, Masters clocked a time of 55:25 to stay in the world’s third-best finish. In the women’s standing class, Paralympian Dani Aravich(Boise, Idaho) finished in eighth place with time of 54:45.
Five-time Paralympian Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minnesota) added his highest career world championship ranking to his list of accomplishments after winning silver in the men’s sitting individual biathlon. It was Pike’s best performance to date in Lillehammer as he finished only 23 seconds behind Ukraine’s Pavlo Bal who took gold and nailed all but one shot in the shooting component of the race. Paralympic champion Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kansas) grabbed eighthplace in the same class with a time of 49:18.
“It was a tough day to be shooting out there, everybody’s missing so I was happy to come away with just missing one shot,” said Pike. “This is probably the windiest race we’ve had in three years. Every chance you get to put a bib on and race in a biathlon race is experience.”
Team USA will take a recovery day on Friday before returning for the final individual event, the men’s and women’s cross-country sprint, on Jan. 22. All events will be streamed live on the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Facebook Page. Follow U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily updates from Lillehammer.
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