Stars of Sochi: Lieutenant Commander Dan Cnossen

A Paralympics Profile

Sochi, Russia – On March 7, Fisht Olympic Stadium will host the opening ceremonies of the XI Paralympic Winter Games. Competitors in 10 disability categories will compete in five events—and Team Semper Fi athlete Dan Cnossen (double above the knee amputee) will be representing Team USA in Nordic Skiing. For details about televised coverage of the Paralympics, please see this press release.

Navy Lt Dan Cnossen (double above the knee amputee) - Nordic/Biathlon
Navy Lt Dan Cnossen (double above the knee amputee) – Nordic/Biathlon.
See related articles:
Meet Our Paralympic Athletes
Meet Lieutenant Commander Dan Cnossen
Meet Petty Officer First Class Kevin Burton
Meet Petty Officer Second Class Tyler Burdick
Meet Sgt. Omar Bermejo
Meet Sgt Jon Lujan

See a Paralympic video of Dan:
Video: Dan Cnossen | U.S. Paralympics

A native of Topeka, Kansas, Dan and his sister, Leslie, are the fifth generation of Cnossens to grow up on the family farm. Dan graduated from the Naval Academy in 2002 and served his country as a Navy SEAL. On September 7, 2009, he was leading a patrol in Afghanistan when he was injured by an improvised explosive device—and achieved the unwanted distinction of becoming the only double above-the-knee amputee in SEAL history.

He’ll be in Sochi next month, representing Team USA and competing in Nordic skiing in the XI Paralympic Winter Games.

As the Olympic Games got underway in Sochi, we posed five questions to Dan as he prepared for the Paralympic Games to come:

What does it mean to you to have reached this level of athletic accomplishment?

“Qualifying for the national team on the U.S. Paralympic Nordic ski team has really elevated my confidence and sense of fulfillment. Being able to go compete for the U.S. every season in World Cups in Europe is a great honor.“

What was the greatest hurdle you had to overcome—aside from the obvious injury—to get to where you are now as an athlete?
“To pack up and move to a ski town on my own, and really focus on sticking with an aggressive training plan.”

What are the most notable athletic accomplishments you’ve achieved?
“I was National Champion in the short distance biathlon event and the cross-country 15K and 10K races at the U.S. Nationals in 2014 in Soldier Hollow, Utah.”

Is there anything that runs through your mind while you’re competing, that really serves to inspire you, that helps you drive yourself further when everything else is saying you can’t go any further?
“I know that all my teammates and competitors are giving 100 percent on the course, and it pushes me to do the same. Especially knowing that the competition is so intense, I have to give it everything.”

Is there anything else about your experience as an athlete that you would like visitors to our website to know?
“I am really grateful to Team Semper Fi for all the positive support and equipment purchases that have helped me attain a higher level of competitiveness.”