Meet The 2022 U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team

by Alex Abrams

The top American Para Nordic skiers haven’t had much time to relax over the past few weeks. 

They’ve gone from competing at the U.S. sit ski championships in Bozeman, Montana, to racing at the inaugural World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway. 

Instead of heading home after the world championships, several U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing members went straight to Östersund, Sweden, to compete in the final world cup before the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 in March.

In the midst of the grueling stretch, U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing named the seven men, six women and one guide who’ll compete in Beijing. The team is a mix of relative newcomers and established veterans who medaled four years ago in PyeongChang.

In the Paralympics, Nordic skiing encompasses both biathlon and cross-country skiing. Team USA won 16 medals in PyeongChang, and this year’s team has the potential to match that mark.

Oksana Masters poses for a portrait during the Team USA Beijing 2022 Paralympic shoot on Sept. 12, 2021 in Irvine, Cali.


Masters has become one of the most popular American Paralympians over the past decade. A 10-time Paralympic medalist, she appeared on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and at the New York Stock Exchange after winning two golds in cycling this past summer in Tokyo. In doing so, she joined Kendall Gretsch in a select group of six Americans who have won gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Paralympics.

Masters has written a book about her life that’ll be published later this year, but first she’ll compete in her sixth Paralympic Games in Beijing. The 32-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, was dominant as usual at the world championships in Lillehammer. She got out of quarantine following a positive coronavirus test, then rushed to Norway in time to win her ninth and 10th career world titles. The sit skier finished with five medals, the most of any American.

Kendall Gretsch wins silver in the women's 15-kilometer sitting cross country race during the World Para Snow Sports Championships on Jan. 18, 2022 in Lillehammer, Norway.


Gretsch is a two-sport star athlete who’ll look to add to the three Paralympic gold medals she has earned so far in nordic skiing and paratriathlon.

She has had no difficulty transitioning to her winter sport after her dramatic finish to win the paratriathlon in Tokyo. The 29-year-old Downers Grove, Illinois, native has gotten off to a fast start in the Para Nordic skiing season. A sit skier, she earned six medals over eight days in December at the world cup opener in Canmore, Alberta. She then won four more medals at the world championships in Lillehammer, including three golds. Her biggest competition could be Masters, her American teammate.

Grace Miller poses after finishing cross country competition at the Paralympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 on March 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Photo by Mark Reis.


Miller was still in high school when she made her Paralympic debut four years ago in PyeongChang. Competing on the world’s largest stage as a teenager, she finished 10th in the women’s 15-kilometer cross-country race.

Born in China and raised in Palmer, Alaska, Miller returned home after the 2018 Winter Paralympics and enrolled at the University of Alaska, where she had ski trails outside her dorm room. The 22-year-old moved to Bozeman after graduating from college to train full-time with U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing. She opened the season with an eighth-place finish in a women’s standing cross-country race in Alberta. An avid traveler, she regularly shares photos from her adventures on Instagram.

Lera Doederlein poses for a photo during practice in 2021. Photo courtesy of Danielle Aravich.


Doederlein can credit 10-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters for encouraging her to get involved in Para Nordic skiing. Like Masters, Doederlein was born with birth defects that affected her legs and spent part of her childhood in an orphanage — though in Russia, as opposed to Ukraine for Masters. Doederlein, like Masters, has also developed into a world-class sit skier.

The 18-year-old San Diego native initially competed in sled hockey, but Masters spoke to her about giving Para Nordic skiing a try in 2019. Doederlein took the advice and eventually moved to Bozeman, Montana, to continue training in the sport. She was named to the 2021-22 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Development Team. Masters has remained a mentor for her.

Dani Aravich poses for a portrait during the Team USA Beijing 2022 Paralympic shoot on Sept. 12, 2021 in Irvine, Cali.


Not long after she was introduced to Para Nordic skiing in December 2019, Aravich set the lofty goal of qualifying for both the Tokyo Paralympics and the Beijing Winter Paralympics. A former cross country and track and field athlete at Butler University, she accomplished the first part of her goal when she made her Paralympic debut as a sprinter in Tokyo.

The 25-year-old Boise, Idaho, native has now fulfilled the second part of her dream by qualifying for Beijing. Aravich has spent the winter continuing to train in cross-country skiing and the biathlon, though she admitted it has been frustrating at times. She competed at the world championships in Lillehammer, finishing eighth in both the women’s standing 10-kilometer cross-country race and the individual biathlon.

Erin Martin practices in 2021. Photo courtesy of Danielle Aravich.


Martin was an avid rock climber, but after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a fall, she was introduced to Para Nordic skiing as part of her recovery. She has since gotten serious about improving in the sport.

A nurse case manager based in Seattle, she has trained alongside friend and fellow nurse Heather Galeotalanza as they’ve continued to work during the coronavirus pandemic. Martin was among a group of American skiers who opened the season at the world cup in Canmore, finishing 10th and 12th in a pair of women’s sitting cross-country races.

Jake Adicoff (R) celebrates with his guide Sam Wood (L) after winning gold in the men's middle C, visually impaired race during the World Para Snow Sports Championships on Jan. 13, 2022 in Lillehammer, Norway.


Adicoff thought he had competed in his last race four years ago in PyeongChang, where the two-time Paralympian earned a silver medal in the men’s visually impaired 10-kilometer cross-country race.

He started to feel the urge to return to the sport early on in the coronavirus pandemic. The 26-year-old Sun Valley, Idaho, native has picked up where he left off since getting back on snow. Paired with friend and guide Sam Wood, Adicoff won his first world title in the men’s visually impaired 12.5-kilometer race in Lillehammer. He also earned a silver and a bronze to medal in all three cross-country skiing events he competed in at the world championships.

Dan Cnossen celebrates after competing at the Paralympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 on March 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.


Cnossen, who’ll turn 42 in May, is the oldest of the American Para Nordic skiers who’ll compete in Beijing. A former Navy SEAL, he made his Paralympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics.

Four years later, the Topeka, Kansas, native had a breakout performance in PyeongChang, where he earned six medals — a gold in the 7.5-kilometer biathlon as well as four silvers and a bronze. Afterward, President Barack Obama shared on Twitter that he and First Lady Michelle Obama were proud of Cnossen for representing the U.S. In a tune-up for the Beijing Games, Cnossen earned a bronze in the men’s sitting middle-distance cross-country race on the first day of competition at a world cup in Östersund on Jan. 27. 

Aaron Pike in action during the men's middle sitting 10-kilometer biathlon during the World Para Snow Sports Championships on Jan. 16, 2022 in Lillehammer, Norway.


Pike has been a constant in the Paralympics over the past decade, making now six consecutive Summer and Winter Games in Nordic skiing and the marathon/track and field. He’ll hope to earn his first medal after coming close to reaching the podium on several occasions.

The 35-year-old Park Rapids, Minnesota, native took part in a grueling three-marathon challenge after the Tokyo Paralympics, completing the London, Chicago and Boston marathons over nine days in October. However, Pike decided not to participate in the New York City Marathon in early November, which allowed him to start training in Para Nordic skiing earlier than usual. He has made the most of it. He earned his best finish at a world championships when he took the silver in the men’s sitting individual biathlon in Lillehammer.

Ruslan Reiter competes at the Paralympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 on March 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.


Reiter will compete in his second Winter Paralympics only a few weeks before he celebrates his 23rd birthday on April 5. He made his Paralympic debut in PyeongChang, where he was a member of the U.S. mixed 4x2.5-kilometer cross-country relay team that finished seventh.

Born in Russia and raised in Manchester, Maine, he was named to the 2021-22 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Team. He then earned a top-10 finish in a men’s standing biathlon race at the Canmore world cup.

Max Nelson competes in 2021. Photo courtesy of the International Paralympic Committee.


Nelson, at age 17, has shown the potential to be a rising star for U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing. He started skiing when he was 7, and he eventually had to get college skiers to serve as his guide because they were the only ones able to keep up with him on snow.

Last year, as a high school junior, Nelson became the first visually impaired Nordic skier to win an individual conference title in Minnesota. A week later, the Mahtomedi, Minnesota, native competed in his first world cup in Slovenia. In early December, Nelson returned for the world cup in Canmore and placed 14th in a men’s visually impaired cross-country race.

Josh Sweeney poses for a photo with teammate Lera Doederlein during practice in 2021. Photo courtesy of Danielle Aravich.


Sweeney is relatively new to Para Nordic skiing, but not the Winter Paralympics. The retired Marine Corps sergeant earned a gold medal as a member of the U.S. sled hockey team at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

He served as a member of the U.S. sled hockey team from 2011-14, and he was a team captain during the 2012-13 season. The 34-year-old Glendale, Arizona, native has since moved to Idaho and made the transition to Para Nordic skiing, where he competes in the men’s sitting class.

Drew Shea poses for a portrait in 2021. Photo courtesy of Danielle Aravich.


Shea started Para Nordic skiing as a way to help him recover after having his left hand amputated following an accident at age 21. He has since tried to soak up as much information about the sport as possible, even picking up pointers from Cnossen.

A standing skier, he spent last winter training in Park City, Utah, and traveling regularly to Bozeman to compete in races. To his surprise, he qualified to compete in last year’s world cup in Slovenia. It was his first time skiing outside of the U.S. The Vienna, Virginia, native was named to the 2021-22 U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing Development Team. He now lives and trains in Bozeman.

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 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.