Aaron Pike will once again represent the United States at the Paralympic Winter Games.
The 31-year-old Park Rapids native earned a spot on Team USA in the biathlon and cross-country skiing. Pike is scheduled to compete in three biathlon events (7.5km sitting, 12.5km sitting and 15km sitting) and three cross-country skiing races (1.1km sprint, 10km and 15km) at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, which begin Friday (March 9) and will run through March 18 at PyeongChang, South Korea. The Olympic Channel will broadcast some of the events.
Pike will compete in the 7.5km biathlon on March 9 and will compete in the 15km ski race on March 10. The other biathlon events are scheduled for March 12 (12.5km) and March 15 (15km) while the other cross-country ski races are scheduled for March 13 (1.1km) and March 16 (10km).
The biathlon is a sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, two events that are very different from each other. Athletes strap the guns on their backs, ski for a certain distance and then stop to shoot at a designated target. For the shooting, there are two types of the shooting positions. One of these is shooting while lying face down and the other is shooting while standing up. The final ranking is decided according to the skiing time and the accuracy of the shooting.
In his Paralympic Winter Games debut at Sochi, Russia in 2014, Pike placed 12th in the 15km ski race in 46:44.7, 14th in the 1.1km sprint ski race in 2:25.22, 14th in the 10km ski race in 35:03.1, 19th in the 7.5km biathlon in 26:46.6 and 19th in the 15km biathlon in 48:29.0.
Pike earned another spot on Team USA with solid showings at the 2017 World Championships at Finsteran, Germany. Pike placed fourth in the 15km biathlon in 51:10.2 and fifth in the 7.5km biathlon in 23:06.5 and placed eighth in the 10km ski race in 20:58.1 and ninth in the 1.1km sprint race.
Pike has also competed in two Paralympic Summer Games for Team USA in track and field, placing 16th in the wheelchair marathon at the 2012 London Games and 10th in the wheelchair marathon at the 2016 Rio Games.
After the 2012 London Games, Pike was invited to a training camp by one of the coaches on the U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing National Team in May 2013. In his season debut, Pike earned three top-15 finishes in World Cup competition in skiing. That helped land Pike a spot on Team USA for the 2014 Sochi Games.
“I tried it (cross-country skiing) for the first time shortly after the 2012 Summer Games as a way to kind of take a break from wheelchair racing but stay fit at the same time, and just try something new,” said Pike, who is the son of Chris and Tiffany Pike of Park Rapids. “I didn’t think it would lead to me loving the sport.”
This year’s Paralympic Winter Games will feature 670 athletes from 80 countries.