FRASER — A local Paralympic sit-skier and Navy SEAL, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen, is on track to be added to the U.S. Paralympic team for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Cnossen, a Nordic sit-skier out of Fraser, is currently on the National Paralympic Team and has claimed a number of top 10 results in the past couple of seasons that have made him one of the top hopefuls for the U.S. team, which is set to announce its team members in late January. Cnossen competes in Nordic skiing and biathlon and claimed podium spots in last year’s U.S. Nationals and the IPC World Cup.
His second place win at the IPC World Cup in Cable, Wis., was the first medal of the 2012 season for the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team as well as the first cross-country medal the team has seen in recent years.
Cnossen is still relatively new to the team and the sport, joining the team in 2010, and still is on active duty with the Navy, serving at Fort Carson.
He has been living in Fraser for the past two years to train in the area, spending most of his time training at the Nordic centers at Snow Mountain Ranch and at Devil’s Thumb Ranch.
Cnossen spends an average of 20 hours a week training, something that is quite demanding as Cnossen only utilizes his core and arms to Nordic ski.
When there is no snow on the ground, Cnossen spends his time running using prosthetic legs and swimming to stay in shape.
Though Cnossen has only been competing in Nordic skiing and biathlon for three years, he is no stranger to competition and has competed in numerous triathlons and Iron Man races, and now continues to enter 5k and 10k runs.
As a team U.S.A hopeful, he said the competition at the international level is tough. Cnossen has been beaten out by the Russian Paralympic team in the three years he has been competing, though has been watching how those skiers compete to try to improve his own ability level.
He regards himself as a “sponge” while training and said that his coaches Shawn Scholl and Mark Birdseye have gotten him to where he is today.
“He is a wealth of knowledge,” Cnossen said of his head coach Scholl. “If he wasn’t out there coaching me, I wouldn’t even be close to where I am now.”
“I’m still a developing athlete with a long way to go but the progress I have made is due to Shawn with a little bit of personal drive from me,” he said.
Cnossen has been training hard in order to qualify for the U.S. paralympic team and has high hopes of gaining a spot on the team, though has modest expectations for the upcoming Olympic games.
“If I get to go to Sochi, I don’t have any expectations, just to go as hard as I can,” he said.
Cnossen says he is also training for the long-term in order to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.
After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 2002, Cnossen went on to complete the SEAL training program.
Cnossen has completed multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL, though lost both of his legs in 2009 after stepping on an IED, or improvised explosive devise, during a night operation.
Cnossen hasn’t let his injury slow him down and continues to work hard towards his goals of competing in the Winter Paralympics.
Cnossen plans to start the process of completing medical retirement from the Navy in the spring of 2014 and plans to utilize the extra time he will have to continue to further his training.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334