“I’ve joked that I would have to improve on my skiing because I have to make up for a lot of penalties because I am missing quite a lot of shots right now. So that will be my main focus."
Multi-talented US athlete Oksana Masters is retaining her focus on Nordic sit-skiing, in addition to her attempts to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in hand cycling, her third Paralympic sport.
The 26-year-old is aiming to make the US team for Rio 2016, and she will be competing at the national trials before the Games begin in September. Her efforts in cycling will add to her exploits in para-rowing, where she won bronze at London 2012.
At the same time, double Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games medallist Masters will be maintaining her commitment to Nordic skiing. Although balancing the two sports has been difficult, there are benefits.
“Hand cycling is definitely helping me with my skiing, in particularly on the tactics side of it,” Masters explained. “It helps me pick the best lines and involves using my brain more.”
Masters has been forced to change to cycling from rowing due to a back injury.
“In rowing you would get your own lane and you would get down and go, but cycling involves a lot more strategy,” she said. “It is not always the strongest person; it’s the smartest person.
“I wouldn’t say that cycling is making me a better skier but it is helping me make smarter decisions and maintain my fitness levels.”
Last season’s IPC Cross-Country Skiing overall World Cup winner made a strong start to the new World Cup season after finishing first in the women’s long distance sitting race in Tyumen, Russia. She finished two seconds ahead of her Russian rival, Nadezhda Fedorova, but the victory came as a shock.
“It was really good but sort of unexpected,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent and I was unsure about my fitness for my first event of the season so it was reassuring to get off to a winning start.”
Masters is aiming to maintain her ranking in cross-country racing. But she has also expressed her desire to pursue more biathlon events.
“I want to improve in the biathlon - I am horrible at biathlon!” laughed Masters.
“I’ve joked that I would have to improve on my skiing because I have to make up for a lot of penalties because I am missing quite a lot of shots right now. So that will be my main focus.
“It’s so frustrating but it makes me want to keep on doing it until I figure it out so I can’t quit it. It’s such a unique challenge because it is not like any other Paralympic sport.”
Over the summer Masters and the rest of the US team flew to Argentina for a snow camp and since then she has spent a lot of time on the bike and working in the gym.
Despite the recent Christmas break, Masters insisted that she would not be sitting back and taking it easy.
“The minute you take your eye off the prize and you sit back and relax is when it gets swept from under you.
“Training is all about the consistency and if you take a week off then you will find it harder to come back.”
Masters will shortly be heading to Finsterau, Germany, for the next stage of the IPC Biathlon and Cross Country World Cup from 23-28 February.