GeneralIPCNewsPara NordicRacingMcFadden Takes Silver in Sochi Sprint, Dream Comes True; Masters One Second from Bronze

Avatar Mark VosburghMarch 12, 20142
Silver Medalist Tatyana McFadden (L) and gold medalist Mariann Marthinsen following the women's 1 k sprint race.
U.S. silver medalist Tatyana McFadden (l) and Norway’s gold medalist Mariann Marthinsen after the women’s 1 k sprint race. (Photo: Greg Rawlings/U.S. Paralympics Nordic)
In a phone interview from Sochi just before the opening of 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, Tatyana McFadden told FasterSkier,  “The sprint is my favorite, I love to sprint in track and I love to sprint on skis.”

On Wednesday, the marathon-racing queen’s love of sprinting transformed to silver.

In the women’s 1-kilometer sit-ski sprint final at the Laura Cross Country Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, McFadden finished second overall, just one-tenth of a second behind Norway’s gold-medal winer Mariann Marthinsen.

Second out of the start behind Germany’s Andrea Eskau, McFadden surged to first when Eskau fell. The American Winter Paralympics rookie led the race until the finish line where she was edged out by Marthinsen.
“I could not go easy, I needed to go hard from the start,” McFadden told the U.S. Olympic Committee. “I knew that they were coming and I could feel them down my neck.”
American Oksana Masters (second from l) with her silver medal from the first sit-ski competition of the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. In her second race on Wednesday, she earned bronze to become the most successful female nordic skier in U.S. Paralympic history. (Photo U.S. Paralympics Nordic)
American Oksana Masters (second from l) with her silver medal from the 12 k sit-ski competition, the first of the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. In her second race on Wednesday, the 1 k sprint, she placed fourth, one second away from bronze. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics Nordic)

McFadden’s teammate, who also picked up the sport last season, Oksana Masters finished fourth, one second away from bronze.

Masters was in third until the final straightaway, where Russia’s Marta Zaynullia passed her for bronze.  Eskau was disqualified  due to an illegal lane change.

McFadden, 24, of Clarksville, Md., became the second U.S. women to win a Paralympic medal in cross county skiing in last 20 years. The first was Masters, who won bronze in the women’s 12 k distance race on Sunday.

After picking up skiing just over a year ago, McFadden advanced to the finals on Wednesday by placing fourth in the qualifier and second to Marthinsen in the semifinal. Masters was third in the qualifier round and second in her semi.

At age 6, McFadden was adopted from St. Petersburg, Russia, by American Deborah McFadden. Her birth mother, whom Tatyana recently met, has been in attendance at the Games to watch her compete.

Oksana Masters' silver  medal in the 12 k distance event at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics Nordic)
Oksana Masters’ silver medal in the 12 k distance event at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics Nordic)

McFadden told FasterSkier before the Games that having both her moms there with her in Sochi “has definitely been a dream of mine … Just having my whole family in the stands is going to be a huge fulfillment so I’m going to take that energy and put it into my skiing.”

Describing McFadden’s rise from a skiing newcomer to Winter Paralympic medalist, U.S. Paralympics Nordic High Performance Director John Farra wrote in an email, “It was definitely a like cramming for a final exam … like fitting in 4 years of college education into one semester, but we started with an athlete with RAW physical talent, power and strength and willingness to work.”

McFadden is a 10-time world champion and three-time Paralympic gold medalist in track racing. She’s competed at three Summer Paralympics and became the first person to win all four major marathons (Boston, London, Chicago, and New York) in a single season. In the 12 k distance event on Saturday, she placed fifth in her first Winter Paralympics race.

“It was definitely a like cramming for a final exam … but we started with an athlete with RAW physical talent, power and strength and willingness to work.” — U.S. High Performance Director John Farra on Tatyana McFadden

“We kept her on snow as much as possible from the start of the season until Sochi … and today it all came together for her,” Farra explained.

A packed cross country stadium at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games sprint races.
A packed cross country stadium at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games sprint races. (Photo U.S. Paralympics Nordic)

In the men’s sprint final Andy Soule placed fifth and Dan Cnossen took sixth. Sochi roommates, Soule and Cnossen were 6.4 and 8.3 seconds back from bronze, respectively.

“My performances here have been very good for me, every race has been one of the very best of my career,” wrote Soule, who won bronze in biathlon at the 2010 Paralympics.

Soule’s best race, the distance biathlon, will be held Friday March 14th.   “I feel very confident about the final biathlon event.  The long distance biathlon is a very good event for me.” Soule noted.

Cnossen, a newcomer to the  Paralympic Games,  described his races in an e-mail, ” [In the semi final] I came around that first sharp right turn wide … then drafted off two Russians and came in third.  In the final, I stumbled at the start … and was never able to reel in the other competitors.”

 

U.S. Paralympics silver medalist Tatyana McFadden with her first medal of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday after placing second in the 1 k sit-ski sprint. (Photo: John Farra/U.S. Paralympics Nordic)
U.S. Paralympics silver medalist Tatyana McFadden with her first medal of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday after placing second in the 1 k sit-ski sprint. (Photo: John Farra/U.S. Paralympics Nordic)

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Mark Vosburgh

FasterSkier’s Para-Nordic contributor, Mark Vosburgh lives in Missoula, Mont., where he works as a Wildfire Scientist for the US Forest Service. In addition to being a chemical engineer, Mark is a cross-country and backcountry skier, bluegrass musician, and biker. He’s also a freelance writer for numerous publications including for 48 Degrees North and MakeitMissoula.com.

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