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Paralympian closer to nordic ski goal

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Augusto “Goose” Perez is one step closer to his goal of making the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Ski Team after his performance two weeks ago at the 2013 Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, Wis.

He finished every race, just as he promised, beating his expectations by achieving his personal best time during each. He was even ranked No. 10 in the world in the mid-distance biathlon, a 12.5-kilometer race with four rounds of shooting.

After talking with his coaches after the events, Mr. Perez said his prospects for making the team are “looking pretty good.”

“I think I will make the team,” he said. “It’s time to stand up or step aside.”

Mr. Perez, who trains locally at the Winona State Forest, said he won’t know for sure whether he’s made the team until December, following the World Cup in Canada.

His next challenge is to compete in the adaptive biathlon events at the Empire State Winter Games, Lake Placid, during the second week of February.

Mr. Perez, who came to the U.S. from Spain during his senior year of high school, has been diagnosed with soft-tissue sarcoma four times, most recently in October, and had his left leg amputated in 2003. He finished his most recent round of radiation treatment a week before competing in Wisconsin.

He competed in the 2006 Torino Winter Games as part of the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Curling Team. He won the 200-meter sprint world championship in 2009 in adaptive outrigger canoeing and also has competed in marathons using a hand cycle.

His competitive drive is limited only by a shortage of funds. Though he receives some money from the U.S. Olympic Committee for training purposes, it is not enough to cover all his traveling expenses.

Mr. Perez said he had planned to compete in the American Birkebeiner Classic, which runs 50 km from Cable to Hayward, Wis., and is one of the longest cross-country skiing events in North America, but had to back out because of lack of funding.

He is supported by the Winona Forest Recreation Association, which grooms certain trails for the hard-packed snow required for his training.

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