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Dan Cnossen shares his journey on winning another Gold medal from the 2022 Paralympics

Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 10:33 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka native and Shawnee Heights High School graduate Dan Cnossen is celebrating another gold medal!

Cnossen and Team USA won the first-ever mixed cross country relay event at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing.

“If I don’t ever have another paralympic game race, well that was a pretty good one,” said Dan Cnossen.

Dan Cnossen won Gold on Team USA’s 4x2.5 km mixed relay at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing China.

“I have to say that the snow in China was unlike anything. I’ve ever skied on and I’ve been doing this sport for over 10 years,” said Cnossen. “It was very slow and we had a good relay team.”

“I was the third leg. All I was thinking was fight for every second because every second that I can fight for will give this anchor like one extra second so that was my mentality,” said Cnossen.

Dan has been involved in Paralympic sports since 2011.

This was his third Paralympic Winter Games, competing in cross country skiing and biathlon races.

“For someone who loved show running and just being in the woods, like this was just the right fit for me,” he said.

Dan graduated from Shawnee Heights in 1998, then joined the US Naval Academy, and was selected for seal training.

A mission in Afghanistan in 2009 changed everything.

“On a nighttime assault operation, I stepped on a buried improvised explosive device, went off, essentially a bomb,” Cnossen explained. “It was tough, when I woke up from this approximately 10 days, I found out that both of my legs have been amputated above the knees.”

“I had a host of other injuries and so I went really quickly from being kind of on top of the world as a Navy seal to all the sudden feeling completely disconnected from the Platoon I had been serving with, my teammates who are in Afghanistan, and also just not knowing what the future is going to look like,” he continued.

But still, he found reason to be grateful, “I’d rather it happened to me than a teammate, and I’m very happy that I’m alive.”

But, Cnossen admits that getting involved in this type of sport, saved his life. “If I didn’t have the Paralympics, I don’t know where I would be mentally.”

“It’s been so, so good for me and I encourage anybody that may have a setback to just explore like connecting with nature because it can really help you mentally,” he added.

Dan says it was an honor to hear both Governor Laura Kelly and Senator Jerry Moran congratulate him and Team USA for making Kansas proud.

“I think I represented the seal teams with honor and the naval academy, and Kansas and Shawnee Heights, my family, and my own self as well,” he said. “It is special for me no doubt to be able to represent the United States, its an honor.”

Dan also won an individual Gold, four silvers, and bronze at the 2018 Paralympics, but says winning gold in a team event was more special.

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