Meet Team USA’s athletes with New England connections who will compete in the Paralympics

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” said Cnossen, “and I could not be more happy and proud that I stumbled on the Paralympic program and specifically cross-country skiing after my injury.

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

Cnossen, 42, who resides in Natick but lists his hometown as 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 Friday.

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

Cnossen headlines Team USA’s nordic ski team, and the sit-athlete enters in strong form after winning a bronze medal in the middle-distance cross-country race at a World Cup event in Östersund, Sweden, Jan. 27.

Cnossen credits Semper Fi & America’s Fund for helping him receive the proper equipment to race, and he hopes his story inspires athletes with disabilities.

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

Here is a sport-by-sport look at the other Team USA athletes with connections to New England:

Alpine skiing

Laurie Stephens: The sit-skier from Wenham will make her fifth Paralympics appearance and has seven medals already. In 2006, she captured a pair of golds and was an ESPY nominee for best female athlete with a disability. Stephens, who was born with spina bifida, enters as a favorite after winning gold in giant slalom and bronze in slalom at the World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, last month.

Andrew Haraghey: From Enfield, Conn., Haraghey finished 18th in downhill and 24th in the super-G in his first Paralympics appearance in 2018. The 26-year-old standing athlete contracted viral encephalitis when he was six months old, resulting in cerebral palsy.

Patrick Halgren: The standing athlete started para-skiing when he was 23 after his left leg was amputated because of a motorcycle crash. From Tolland, Conn., Halgren grew up skiing at Stowe in Vermont. This is his first Paralympics after placing 22nd in slalom at the Worlds in Lillehammer.

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

Spencer Wood: The 25-year-old from Pittsfield, Vt., is former student at the University of Colorado who will compete in his second Paralympics. 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 skiing

Dan Cnossen: After bursting onto the scene in Pyeonchang, Cnossen will be the oldest American para-skier in Beijing. He is a favorite to medal after capturing one gold, four silvers, and one bronze in 2018.

Ruslan 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 Paralympics after earning a silver medal in the men’s visually impaired 10-kilometer race in 2018. He will be paired with guide and good friend Sam Wood, a Middlebury graduate. Adicoff is fresh off his first world title in the men’s visually impaired 12.5-kilometer race in Lillehammer last month.

Sled hockey

David Eustace: The 22-year-old from Stoneham will make his Paralympics debut. When he was 5, Eustace was hit by a car leaving school and had his left leg amputated. The defenseman made the national roster during the 2019-20 season and was part of the 2021 World Championship team. He scored his first career goal in the 2019 Para Hockey Cup in Newfoundland.

Griffin LaMarre: Another first-timer, LaMarre is from Haverhill. The 25-year-old was one of the final cuts of the 2018 team. He grew up playing lacrosse and has participated in the sled hockey developmental program for the last seven years. LaMarre has hereditary spastic paraplegia, which causes his muscles to tighten and his legs to become tired and weak.

Kyle Zych: From South Hadley, Zych played for Team USA in a pair of Para Ice Hockey World Cups, capturing a gold medal in 2019 and 2021. Like his Northeast Passage Wildcats club teammates Eustace and LaMarre, Zych will be making his first Paralympics appearance. He was born with spina bifida.

Wheelchair curling

Steve Emt: A former basketball player at UConn under coach Jim Calhoun, Emt was paralyzed in a 1995 car accident. The Hebron, Conn., native hand-cycled in the 2010 New York City Marathon and discovered wheelchair curling in 2014 when he met US coach Tony Colacchio outside a restaurant in Falmouth. The vice-skip of the team has competed in five World Championships and two Paralympics.

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