Oksana Masters Wins Silver In Middle Distance To Become Most Decorated U.S. Para Cross-Country Skier

by Katie Grunik

Oksana Masters reacts as she crosses the finish line in women's middle distance sitting para cross-country at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 12, 2022 in Beijing.


ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Oksana Masters won a silver medal in middle distance sitting cross-country at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Saturday at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre in Zhangjiakou, China. 
The win made 32-year-old Masters six for six across her Beijing 2022 events. She won gold in sprint and individual biathlon sitting and won silver in middle distance biathlon and cross-country sprint, middle and long distance sitting.  She has won eight career Winter Paralympic medals in Para cross-country, making her the most decorated U.S. Winter Paralympian in the sport.  
Masters (25:24.7) shared the podium on Saturday with China’s Yang Hongqiong and Ma Jing who finished in 24:47.5 for gold and 26:22.9 for bronze, respectively.  
Team USA’s Kendall Gretsch placed sixth. First-time Paralympians Lera Doederlein and Erin Martin finished 14th and 15th.  
Gretsch said she is proud of her performance across the Games, which resulted in one gold, one silver and one bronze medal across her six para biathlon and para cross-country races.  
“I came out every race and gave everything I had,” Gretsch said. “I was hoping to do better, but I can't can't be upset that I gave everything each day.” 
Gretsch and Masters were a force for Team USA across the para Nordic events, earning nine of Team USA’s 18 medals as of Saturday. Going into the final day of competition, Gretsch was looking forward to watching Team USA fight for a final medal in the cross-country mixed team relay.  
“This is honestly probably one of the first times where we've had a chance to have a really competitive relay,” Gretsch said. “I think everyone's just really gutsy in the relay. It's tough. It's 2.5-kilometers all out, and you have to have some grit to suffer through it. I think that's something our team is definitely not lacking.”

Dani Aravich and Sydney Peterson at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 12, 2022 in Beijing.


Grit was a key ingredient for the Americans across the middle-distance races on Saturday. The sun heated up the course, making the slushy hill climbs a grueling mental and physical battle for Team USA Nordic skiers.  

Sydney Peterson posted the top finish in women’s middle distance standing, placing sixth, followed by Danni Aravich in ninth and Grace Miller in 16th.  

“In my few years in Nordic, this is the like most difficult snow I've ever encountered,” Aravich said. “I knew it was going to be tough today, but I didn't know how tough. I didn't realize like how much extra work would have to be put in for very little output so mentally we had to accept that it's not going to be the most beautiful skiing someone has ever seen.” 

Miller and Aravich battled it out on the course, but off the snow the two have enjoyed Beijing 2022 together. Miller, a two-time Paralympian, said one of the highlights of her Games experience was rooming with Aravich.  

“Being roommates with Dani and sharing the experience with someone else,” Miller said. “I think at least for me, like both mentally and physically, this Games has been a lot harder, so it's been really good to have like a good teammate to be with and cry with.”

Max Nelson competes with guide Simi Hamilton in men's middle distance visually impaired para cross-country at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 12, 2022 in Beijing.


Jake Adicoff, guided by Sam Wood, placed sixth in men’s middle distance free - visually impaired. Max Nelson, guided by three-time Olympian Simi Hamilton, placed eighth.  

“I think I did pretty good today,” Nelson said. “Conditions were a little bit rougher than my first race, but I was so excited to get out here and represent Team USA. I thought I gave it my all so that’s all that matters.” 

Nelson was the youngest member of the Para Nordic team in Beijing. He has enjoyed this Games and plans to return for the Paralympic Winter Games Milan-Cortina 2026. Whether or not Hamilton will still be guiding him in four years, the veteran said his time at the Paralympics with Nelson has been incredible.  

“You can tell that there's like a very genuine passion for just being out here and working hard and being a great teammate,” Hamilton said. “The other thing that you absolutely need as a cross country ski racer is some grit, some mental toughness, and I think today especially showed that today. I'm just so incredibly proud of him.”  

In the men’s sitting classification, Aaron Pike posted the top finish for Team USA in 12th, followed by Josh Sweeney in 24th. 

U.S. Para Nordic will close out Paralympic competition on Sunday with the open and mixed 4x2.5-kilometer relays. 

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022? Visit to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.

Katie Grunik is a digital content creator for She is covering her second Olympic & Paralympic Games for and currently serves as the digital content coordinator for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.