Meet Team USA athletes with New England connections who will be competing in the Paralympic Games

“It was a wonderful journey,” said Cnossen, “and I couldn’t be happier and prouder to have discovered the Paralympic program and specifically cross-country skiing after my injury.

“Training this sport in the woods, around the mountains, in nature, all over the cold regions of the world has been a fantastic and formative experience.”

Cnossen, 42, who resides in Natick but whose hometown is Topeka, Kan., is one of 12 athletes with New England ties who will compete for Team USA at the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing, which begin on Friday.

Cnossen is making her third Paralympic appearance and has won six medals, including gold in the 7.5 kilometer biathlon in 2018 in PyeongChang. His efforts earned him praise from President Barack Obama on Twitter.

Cnossen is the headliner of the Team USA Nordic Ski Team, and the seated athlete comes into top form after winning a bronze medal in the middle-distance cross-country race at a World Cup event in Östersund, Sweden on January 27.

Cnossen thanks Semper Fi & America’s Fund for helping him receive the proper equipment to run, and he hopes his story will inspire athletes with disabilities.

“I hope the image I can provide is of someone who faced a difficult injury with optimism and worked hard with dedication to train for the sport,” he said.

Here’s a sport-by-sport look at other Team USA athletes with New England ties:

Alpine skiing

Laurie Stephens: The Wenham sit-skier will be making her fifth appearance at the Paralympic Games and already has seven medals. In 2006, she won two gold medals and was an ESPY nominee for Best Female Athlete with a Disability. Stephens, who was born with spina bifida, is among the favorites after winning giant slalom gold and slalom bronze at the World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway last month.

Wenham’s Laurie Stephens will be looking for another gold medal.Alex Livesey/Getty

Andre Haraghey: A native of Enfield, Conn., Haraghey finished 18th in the downhill and 24th in the super-G in his first Paralympic Games appearance in 2018. The 26-year-old upright athlete contracted viral encephalitis at the age of six months, resulting in cerebral palsy.

Patrick Halgren: The upright athlete started paraskiing at the age of 23 after his left leg was amputated in a motorcycle accident. From Tolland, Connecticut, Halgren grew up skiing in Stowe, Vermont. This is his first Paralympic Games after finishing 22nd in slalom at the Lillehammer Worlds.

Connor Hogan: The 24-year-old from Foxborough was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged 18 months. The son of two ski instructors, he started running at the age of 7. Hogan competed in PyeongChang, finishing 24th in the giant slalom.

Foxborough’s Connor Hogan works out during a Thursday training session in China.Alexander Hassenstein/Getty

Spencer Wood: The 25-year-old from Pittsfield, Vermont, is a former University of Colorado student who will be competing at his second Paralympic Games. He suffered a stroke before he was born, which resulted in a type of paralysis known as hemiplegia that affects the right side of his body.

Nordic Ski

Dan Cnossen: After bursting onto the scene in Pyeonchang, Cnossen will be the oldest American paraskier in Beijing. He is one of the favorites for medals after winning one gold, four silver and one bronze in 2018.

Rouslan Reiter: Born in Russia but raised in Manchester, Maine, Reiter had an undeveloped right arm at birth. He will compete in Beijing just a month before his 23rd birthday. Reiter was a member of the mixed 4 x 2.5 kilometer cross-country relay team that finished seventh in PyeongChang.

Jake Adicoff: The Bowdoin alum will return for his third Paralympic Games after winning a silver medal in the men’s 10 kilometer race for the visually impaired in 2018. He will be paired with guide and good friend Sam Wood, a Middlebury graduate. Adicoff is coming off his first world title in the men’s 12.5 kilometer race for the visually impaired in Lillehammer last month.

Jake Adicoff is heading to his third Paralympic Games.Alex Livesey/Getty

Sledge Hockey

David Eustache: The 22-year-old from Stoneham will be making his Paralympic debut. At age 5, Eustace was hit by a car on his way out of school and had his left leg amputated. The defenseman was on the national roster in the 2019-20 season and was on the 2021 World Championship team. He scored his first career goal at the 2019 Para Hockey Cup in Newfoundland.

Griffon LaMarre: Another newbie, LaMarre is from Haverhill. The 25-year-old was one of the last cuts to the 2018 team. He grew up playing lacrosse and has been in the sledge hockey development program for the past seven years. LaMarre suffers from hereditary spastic paraplegia, which causes his muscles to tighten and his legs to become tired and weak.

Kyle Zych: A native of South Hadley, Zych has played for Team USA in two Para Ice Hockey World Cups, winning a gold medal in 2019 and 2021. Like fellow club Northeast Passage Wildcats Eustace and LaMarre, Zych will make his first appearance at the Paralympic Games. He was born with spina bifida.

wheelchair curl

Steve Emt: A former basketball player at UConn under coach Jim Calhoun, Emt was crippled in a car crash in 1995. The Hebron, Conn. native rode a handcycle during the 2010 New York City Marathon and discovered wheelchair curling in 2014 when he met USA coach Tony Colacchio outside a restaurant in Falmouth. The team’s vice-captain has participated in five world championships and two Paralympics.

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