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Soule Wins First World Cup in Two Years; Masters, McKeever Also Victorious in Asahikawa

France's Benjamin Daviet was part of the winning cross-country open relay team that beat champions Russia earlier this month at the 2015 IPC World Championships in Cable, Wis. (Photo: IPC/James Netz Photography)

France’s Benjamin Daviet was part of the winning cross-country open relay team that beat champions Russia earlier this month at the 2015 IPC World Championships in Cable, Wis. (Photo: IPC/James Netz Photography)

(IPC press release)

A series of medallists from the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships continued their cross-country form in Asahikawa, Japan, on Saturday (14 February), at the penultimate World Cup of the 2014-15 season.

In the men’s 10-kilometer classic middle distance standing, France’s Benjamin Daviet (27:59.0) beat Russian world champion Vladislav Lekomtcev (28:11.0) with a solid performance that followed on from his sprint and long distance silvers from the Worlds in Cable, Wis. Canada’s Mark Arendz (28:47.5) was third.

Russia’s Ekaterina Rumyantseva (16:28.9) took the win in the women’s 5 k classic middle distance standing under partly cloudy skies. Canada’s Brittany Hudak (16:53.6), having just missed out on a podium at the World Championships, was second with Yurika Abe (18:24.0) taking the last podium place for the hosts.

Andy Soule competing at 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics/James Netz)

Andy Soule competing at 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics/James Netz)

The USA’s Andrew Soule, fresh from his historic haul of five medals from his home World Championships, was victorious in the men’s 5 k short distance sitting.

Soule (15:33.2) led Russian Alexey Bychenok in second (15:34.9) and teammate Dan Cnossen in third (15:35.2) to take his first World Cup win in two years.

“It is a great way to start this week,” Soule said in a U.S. Paralympics press release. “Our plan was to come here well prepared, race well, recover well and have five good opportunities to ski fast. This has been a great event and organizers have done a fantastic job. I am looking forward to the rest of the week.”

The women’s equivalent, the 2.5 k sitting, featured another convincing US win, this time for Oksana Masters (8:30.4). Norway’s sprint Paralympic champion Mariann Marthinsen (8:42.0) was second over one lap whilst Russian Natalia Kocherova (8:59.8) completed the podium.

“I really like this short distance and hope we get to ski it more often,” Masters told U.S. Paralympics. “It is such a short race, and there is no room for mistakes. I just had to ski fast.”

Canada’s Brian McKeever (28:13.9) was once again in astonishing form in the men’s 10 k classic middle distance visually impaired, dominating with guide Graham Nishikawa.

“We have only been here two days and are all quite sleepy with jet lag, but we are pretty happy with the results all-around today,” Canadian Para-Nordic Head Coach Robin McKeever said in a team press release. “The skis were really good, and I am happy with how everyone skied. They were all solid from start-to-finish.”

Norway’s Eirik Bye (31:35.2), guided by Kristian Myhre Hellerud, sealed his first career World podium in second as France’s Anthony Chalencon (32:25.2) with guide Lucas Dupperex was third.

Competition continues in Asahikawa on Sunday (15 February) with sprint races. The 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals take place in Surnadal, Norway, from 16-22 March.

Results: Men’s short | Women’s short | Men’s middle | Women’s middle | Complete results

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