Navy SEAL Veteran Wins U.S. First Paralympic Biathlon Gold

Dan Cnossen, a Navy SEAL veteran and double amputee, wins United States Paralympic biathlon gold for the first time.

Navy SEAL veteran and double amputee athlete, Dan Cnossen, won the gold medal in the biathlon event this past weekend at the Paralympic winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea. This achievement is uniquely special because it marks the first men’s gold in the biathlon event for the United States. Dan dominated the competition, finishing the race with a 10 second lead over the rest of the competitors in the field.

This gold medal was not only the country’s first, it was also Dan’s first medal in the Paralympic games. Over the duration of his winter game career, Cnossen has competed in 25 cross country and biathlon events, dating back to 2011 at the Sochi winter games.

Dan Cnossen finished placing 14th at the Sochi games, but used those past experiences as a learning curve, returning to the games hungrier than ever.

“In the last Games that I did in Sochi, I let the TV screens and the announcer get to me and today I just focused on what I can do and nothing else matters,” Cnossen said. “I crossed the line and I wasn’t even going to look at the board and I was pleasantly surprised at the end.”

Dan is 37 years old, a Navy SEAL veteran, and platoon leader of Seal Team One. He served his tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was nearly killed from stepping on an Improvised explosive device (IED) planted in the road back in September 2009. Dan learned he lost both of his legs after waking up from being unconscious for eight days, doctors had to amputate both legs from above his knee.

He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, and was honored in the White House by Michelle Obama for his bravery, honor, and perseverance during a dinner for military leaders.

Today, Dan tirelessly pursues a dual master’s degree in public health and philosophy from Harvard University. In his free time, he takes pleasure in taking runs, traveling and surfing. (Via

“I love being part of a team in the military, and when I became injured I was looking to seek that out again,” Cnossen said Saturday at the games. “The Paralympic team has been the most perfect fit for me.”