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Two Golds for U.S. in PyeongChang: First for Adicoff, Fifth in a Row for Masters

Americans Andy Soule (l) and Oksana Masters after both reached the podium in their respective long-distance, cross-country races at the IPC World Cup race in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo: Oksana Masters/US Paralympics Twitter)

The International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) fourth weekend of World Cup racing kicked off Friday, March 10 in PyeongChang, South Korea, with men’s and women’s biathlon sprints. Canadian Mark Arendz and American Oksana Masters reached the podium in second and third, respectively. Complete race recap and results below.

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Day 1

In the women’s sitting biathlon 6-kilometer sprint, American Oksana Masters reached the podium in third in a time of 24:43.1 after two misses (1+1). Two Germans placed ahead of her, with Anja Wicker taking the win after shooting clean and completing the course in a time of 24:19.6. Earning second place was Wicker’s teammate, Andrea Eskau clocking in at 24:19.8 after one missed shot (1+0). American Joy Rondeau finished fourth in a time of 30:23.2 with two misses (2+2).

The men’s sitting 7.5 k biathlon sprint went to Germany’s Martin Fleig, who missed one shot (0+1) and completed the course in a time of 24:25.0. South Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin snagged second after tying Fleig’s shooting score and finishing in a time of 25:00.8. Rounding out the podium in third was Ukrainian Taras Rad, who clocked in at 25:11.7 after one miss (1+0).

Four Americans competed in the men’s sitting event, with Andy Soule leading the team in sixth. Soule completed the course in a time of 26:08.1 after four misses (1+3). Just one spot behind Soule was his teammate Aaron Pike in seventh. Pike clocked in at 26:34.9 after three missed shots (2+1).

Also for the U.S., Sean Halstead placed ninth in 27:16.1 after two misses. Bryan Price was the final American on the day, finishing 14th in a time of 30:02.2 after five misses (3+2).

Two Canadians also competed in Friday’s sitting biathlon sprint, with Collin Cameron finishing eighth, completing the course in a time of 26:38.1 after three misses (0+3). Derek Zaplotinsky came in 11th, finishing in a time of 28:52.6 with two missed shots (0+2).

Ukraine swept the women’s standing 6 k biathlon sprint podium, with first going to Oleksandra Kononova in a time of 19:26.8 after two misses (0+2). Her teammate, Iuliia Batenkova, shot 100 percent and clocked in a time of 19:35.4 for second place. Iryna Bui snagged the third and final spot in a time of 20:12.6 after one missed shot (0+1). 

Two Canadians competed in the event, with Brittany Hudak placing fifth in a time of 21:15.1 after one miss (1+0). Her teammate, Emily Young missed three shots (2+1) and finished in a time of 22:14.0 for ninth place.

Canada’s Mark Arendz claimed second in the men’s 7.5 k biathlon standing sprint, after shooting clean and clocking in in a time of 18:54.4.

Left to right: Canada’s Mark Arendz, France’s Benjamin Daviet and Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset on the podium after the men’s 7.5-kilometer standing biathlon sprint on Friday at the the International Paralympic Committee World Cup race in PyeongChang South Korea. (Photo: Mark Arendz/twitter)

“The warm temperatures and bright sunlight caused the majority of the course to be very deep, soft and wet snow,” Arendz said said, according to a Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team press release. “I really enjoy the course here. It is a great mix of hard climbs, rolling and pancake flat sections with both straightforward and technical descents. The wind will play an important role in the shooting, but the warm and soft conditions that we are experiencing is exactly what we had expected from the venue.”

France’s Benjamin Daviet tied Arendz’s shooting score, and raced to first place, completing the course in 18:33.1. Norwegian Nils-Erik Ulset rounded out the podium in third, also shooting 100 percent and finishing in 19:21.5.

“It is a good course and fun to ski through. I am happy with my performance, it was one of the best races I have had this season,” Ulset said, according to an IPC press release

German Clara Klug took the women’s visually impaired 6 k biathlon sprint, finishing in a time of 22:39.3 for the win after shooting 100 percent. Oksana Shyshkova of Ukraine claimed second in a time of 23:07.6 after two misses (1+1), while her Ukrainian teammate, Nata Rubanovska earned third in a time of 23:41.9 with two missed shots  (2+0).

American Mia Zutter also competed in the event, finishing in fifth in a time of 31:46.3 after six misses (3+3).

Ukraine’s Dmytro Suiarko claimed the men’s visually impaired 7.5 k biathlon sprint, completing the course in a time of 21:12.0 after shooting clean. Anatolii Kovalevskyi, also of Ukraine, finished second after shooting 100 percent and clocking in in a time of 21:21.0. The third and final podium spot went to another Ukranian, Iurii Utkin in a time of 21:38.5 with one miss (1+0).

Results: Women | Men

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Athletes returned to the venue on Saturday, March 11, for long-distance, cross-country races. Americans Jake Adicoff and Soule both landed on the podium, and Canada’s Arendz racked up his second podium in a row. Masters also earned her second podium of the week. Complete race recap and results below.

Day 2

For the first time in his ski career, American Jake Adicoff raced to an IPC cross-country victory on Saturday, winning the men’s visually impaired 20 k freestyle in a time of 1:00:16.9. Finishing behind him in 1:02:43.9 was Sweden’s Zebastian Modin, taking second. The third finisher was France’s Thomas Clarion, who clocked in at 1:03:28.7.

Modin is currently ranked number one on the IPC World Cup athlete list, just ahead of Clarion.

“Winning this race is a huge confidence boost for me,” Adicoff said, according to an IPC press release. “It is good to be here testing the course ahead of next year’s Paralympic Winter Games.”

In the women’s visually impaired 15 k freestyle race, it was Austria’s Carina Edlinger who came away with the win, finishing in a time of 56:05.1 for first.  Second place went to Ukrainian Olga Prylutska in a time of 1:00:08.3, and third to Ukraine’s Shyshkova in a time of 1:02:08.6.

“It was really hard but great, I did good and I am happy,” Edlinger said according to an IPC press release.

Another American male made the podium, with Soule placing second in the men’s sitting 15 k race after completing the course in a time of 46:09.6.

First place went to South Korea’s Sin, who clocked in at 45:41.2. The third and final podium spot went to Canada’s Chris Klebl in a time of 46:15.3.

“The last month has been an experiment, and today’s plan was simply to see if the various gambles employed in getting back to World Cup form might work,” Klebl said, according to a team press release. “Racing well here this week was a major focus of my season, but my medical challenges derailed a variety of plans, so skiing well today feels like a giant bonus in a season that did not unfold as planned.”

Despite dealing with health issues this season, Klebl, a three-time Paralympian, is hopeful that Saturday’s performance is an indicator of future results at the Olympics in PyeongChang a little less than a year from now.

“I was in a hospital bed on bed rest for six weeks recovering from surgery related to a skin and bone infection until January 31,” Klebl said. “Training had gone well, but I had been dealing with an infected wound since the beginning of August. While I did lift weights in my hospital bed, I only got on snow on February 1, and had not done any ski specific training since the end of November.”

Three more Canadians competed in the 15 k sitting event, including Cameron who finished sixth in a time of 47:40.2, Sebastien Fortier taking 12th in a time of 50:53.9, and Zaplotinsky, who clocked in at 51:33.9 for 13th place.

For the U.S., Halstead finished 10th in a time of 50:13.2.

Last year, Masters didn’t miss a beat in cross-country and so far this year, she’s done the same. Along with taking home three gold medals from this season’s IPC World Championships, Masters has continued her winning streak, dominating all the women’s sitting cross-country events that she has entered.

She earned her fifth-consecutive cross-country win in a row on Saturday, taking the title in the women’s sitting 12 k event — her total season wins now amasses to six, which includes her first biathlon victory.

Masters won the race in 41:02.1, besting Germany’s Eskau, who finished second for the second-straight day in 42:13.3, and Norway’s Birgit Skarstein, who finished third in a time of 42:41.0.

Left to right: Germany’s Anja Wicker, the U.S.’s Oksana Masters and Norway’s Birgit Skarstein on the podium for the women’s 6 k sitting biathlon sprint on Friday, March 10, at the the IPC World Cup race in PyeongChang South Korea. (Photo: Oksana Masters/US Paralympics twitter)

Two other U.S. women competed in Saturday’s sitting event, including Kendall Gretsch, who finished eighth in of 47:48.5 and Rondeau, who finished 10th in 49:59.8.

In the women’s standing 15 k freestyle competition, Ukraine’s Kononova emerged victorious, taking the win in a time of 55:29.2. Her Ukrainian Batenkova snagged second in a time of 56:53.4, while Japan’s Momoko Dekijima earned the final podium spot in a time of 57:34.4.

Canada’s Young and Caroline Bisson both competed in the standing event, with Young placing fifth in a time of 1:01:02.4 and Bisson finishing eighth in a time of 1:07:46.9.

Canada’s Arendz claimed his second podium in a row, after finishing third in the men’s standing 20 k competition in a time of 1:00:02.5.

“It was a tough day on the course, but the wax technicians provided some amazing skis that helped a lot,” Arendz said, according to a team press release. “It was soft and deep slush, but I felt I kept a very strong, solid pace throughout the race. It was tough to finish so close to second, but I have to be pleased with the effort I put in today. It was a great result for me.”

Placing ahead of the Canadian in first and second respectively, were France’s Daviet and Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh.

Daviet completed the course in a time of 56:35.8 for the win, while Reptyukh finished in a time of 59:58.9.

Results: Women | Men

— Gabby Naranja

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