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IPC World Cup Finals: 2 Wins for Masters, 1 for Adicoff; Canada’s Young, Arendz Place 2nd

American Oksana Masters racing to first in the women’s 10-kilometer sitting biathlon race this past Tuesday in Sapporo, Japan. (Photo: Oksana Masters/Twitter)

The International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) fifth and final week of World Cup racing began last Saturday, March 18, and lasted through Wednesday, March 22 in Sapporo, Japan. Complete series recap and results below.

***

Day 1

After ending last season undefeated in every IPC World Cup cross-country race she entered, Oksana Masters of U.S. Paralympics Nordic kept the streak going strong last Saturday, taking first in the women’s 5-kilometer sitting race in Sapporo.

Masters completed the course in 15:32.0, besting both Germany’s Andrea Eskau in second and Anja Wicker in third. Eskau clocked in at 15:45.3, while her teammate Wicker finished in 17:11.7.

In the men’s 7.5 k sitting race, Ukrainian Maksym Yarovyi took the win in 20:42.9. South Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin claimed second, clocking in 21:04.4, while third went to Germany’s Martin Fleig in 21:05.6.

Canada’s Chris Klebl was the top North American in the men’s sitting race, coming in fifth in 21:32.2. American Andy Soule followed in sixth in 21:33.8, then Aaron Pike, also for the U.S., clocking in at 21:45.5 for seventh.

The women’s 7.5 k visually impaired cross-country win went to Austria’s Carina Edlinger, who finished in 21:11.1. Second place went to Oksana Shyshkova of Ukraine, who finished in 22:59.6, while Germany’s Clara Klug claimed the third podium spot in 23:29.6.

A second U.S. skier reached the podium on Saturday, with Jake Adicoff finishing second in the men’s 10 k visually impaired freestyle race in 23:07.7. Finishing ahead of Adicoff in first was Sweden’s Zebastian Modin, who clocked in in a time 22:53.7.

Rounding out the podium was Dmytro Suiarko of Ukraine, who finished in 24:17.7 for third.

Ukraine swept the podium the podium in the women’s 7.5 k standing freestyle race, with the win going to Oleksandra Kononova in 20:35.4. Her teammate Liudmyla Liashenko earned second, finishing in of 21:07.3. Bohdana Konashuk was the final Ukrainian to reach the women’s standing podium, completing the course in 21:13.3 for third.

France’s Benjamin Daviet won the men’s 10 k standing race in 22:14.0. Ihor Reptyukh claimed second in 22:59.6, while Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset earned third in 23:06.4. Just missing the podium in fourth was Canada’s Mark Arendz, who finished in 23:06.5.

Results: Women | Men

Day 2

Adicoff claimed his third career cross-country victory on Sunday in the men’s 5 k classic visually impaired race, winning in 13:00.9, ahead of Ukraines’s Iurii Utkin in second and Iaroslav Reshetynskiy in third. Utkin completed the course in 13:48.2, while Reshetynskiy finished in 13:51.3.

Notching her second-straight win was Austria’s Edlinger, topping the women’s 2.5 k classic in 7:53.9. Ukraine’s Shyshkova once again finished second, clocking in at 8:25.5, while her Ukrainian teammate Natalia Rubanovska rounded out the podium in third in 8:49.6.

Making his way onto the podium in the men’s 5 k sitting was Canada’s Klebl, who finished second in 14:24.9. Placing ahead of him in first was Ukraine’s Yarovyi, who clocked in at 14:12.4, while Germany’s Fleig once again took third, completing Sunday’s 5 k course in a time 14:30.7.

Pike and Soule finished seventh and eighth respectively, with Pike finishing in 15:06.0 and Soule 15:08.2.

For the first time in two seasons, Masters didn’t win the women’s sitting cross-country race. Instead, she placed second, completing the women’s 2.5 k course in 8:20.2. Germany’s Eskau claimed first, clocking in at 8:07.8 for the win. Rounding out the podium was Wicker, completing the course in 8:57.1 for third.

In the men’s 5 k standing classic event, France’s Daviet once again won, finishing first in 12:19.7. Racing on his country’s home course, Japan’s Yoshihiro Nitta came in second, completing the 5 k in 12:54.3. Ukrainian Grygorii Vovchynskyi claimed the third and final spot, finishing in 13:04.3.

Once again finishing just off the podium was Canada’s Arendz in fourth, clocking in at 13:25.0.

Earning her second win in a row was Ukraine’s Kononova, leading the field in the women’s 2.5 k standing classic in 7:52.4. Claiming second was Sweden’s Helene Ripa in 8:18.2, while Ukraine’s Iuliia Batenkova earned third in 8:18.5. Canadian Emily Young finished fifth in 8:28.5.

Results: Women | Men

Day 3

Perhaps seeking redemption after her second-place finish on Sunday, Masters won the women’s 10 k sitting biathlon race on Tuesday, March 21, finishing in 34:45.4 with three misses (2+0+0+1).

Finishing behind Masters in 35:29.3 also with three misses (1+1+1+0 ) was Germany’s Eskau. Her German teammate, Wicker claimed the third and final podium spot, clocking in at 36:41.8 after also accumulating three penalties (1+2+0+0).

Moving up from third to first was Germany’s Fleig, who finished first in the men’s 10 k sitting biathlon event in 39:10.5 after two missed shots (0+1+1+0). Behind Fleig was Ukraine’s Taras Rad in second, posting a time of 39:50.6 after one miss (0+0+0+1). After missing three shots (1+1+1+0), Trygve Steinar Larsen completed the 10 k course in 40:54.3 for third.

Soule was the top North American in fifth, missing six shots (2+1+1+2) and finishing in 42:45.8. Pike placed seventh, clocking in in 45:48.7 with nine misses (4+2+0+3).

Ukraine once again swept the podium, this time in the women’s 12.5 k standing biathlon event. Kononova kept her winning streak strong, claiming first in 29:15.9 after two misses (0+2+0+0). Her teammate Iryna Bui placed second, finishing in 31:11.8 after three missed shots (1+1+0+1). Liashenko rounded out the third and final podium spot in 31:42.0 with seven misses (0+4+1+2).

Shooting a perfect 20-for-20 was Canada’s Young, who finished in 34:00.3 for eighth place.

Breaking onto the podium after back-to-back fourth-place finishes was Canada’s Arendz, who claimed second in the men’s 12.5 k standing biathlon competition in 30:31.2 with one miss (0+0+1+0). Placing ahead of Arendz in first was France’s Daviet, who missed two (0+1+0+1) and clocked in at 30:13.5.

“The third bout of shooting was by far my worst and that is where my single miss came from,” Arendz said, according to a Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team press release. “In the end, shooting clean would have earned me top spot on the podium, but with my miss, I had to settle for second place. The focus now is to recover as best as I can for the final race of the season tomorrow.”

Rounding out the podium was Ulset, who completed the course in 30:44.4 after two misses (1+1+0+0).

The women’s 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon event went to Shyshkova of Ukraine in 31:31.7 with one miss (0+1+0+0), while Germany’s Klug claimed second in 32:55.8 after also missing one shot (1+0+0+0).

Ukrainian Olga Prylutska earned third in 37:43.2 despite 11 misses (1+2+4+4).

Another Ukrainian podium sweep occurred on Tuesday, this time in the men’s 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon race with Utkin earning first and completing the course in f 32:14.1 after two misses (1+0+0+1). Just behind Utkin was Oleksandr Kazik in second, finishing in 33:27.3 with three misses (2+1+0+0).  The third podium finisher, Suiarko, clocked in at 33:51.5 after missing three shots (1+0+1+1 ).

Results: Women | Men

Day 4

Canada’s Emily Young (l) on the podium in second in the women’s 6 k biathlon standing race on Wednesday, March 22, at IPC World Cup Finals in Sapporo, Japan. Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova (c) finished first, for her fourth-straight win in as many races at IPC World Cup Finals, and Ukraine’s Bohdana Konashuk (r) placed third. (Photo: Emily Young/Facebook)

On the fourth and final IPC World Cup race day on Wednesday, March 22, Canada’s Young reached the podium, finishing second in the women’s 6 k standing biathlon event. She shot clean and completed the course in 18:41.8 for second place.

“What the heck just happened? And why didn’t I do that the rest of the year?” Young said, according to a Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team press release. “Yesterday was a confidence booster in the range, but I tried another tactic in skiing which didn’t work.

“On the start line today, I knew I could give it everything for six kilometres and so I did,” she added. “I trusted my abilities and the process [coach] John Jacques and I have been focusing on and it worked.

“I had no expectations other then I was going to ski and shoot the best I could and I did it,” added Young. “I can’t thank the wax techs and coaches enough,” Young continued. “They have been absolutely incredible the entire year and nothing would be possible without their support.”

Ahead of Young in first was Ukraine’s Kononova, who finished in 18:12.9 after missing two shots. Also for Ukraine, Batenkova, who also shot 100 percent, finished in 18:50.9 for third.

Arendz repeated in second for Canada in the men’s 7.5 k standing biathlon race, finishing in 18:45.3 with one miss (1+0). Shooting 100 percent for first place was France’s Daviet, who finished in 17:49.6. Ukraine’s Reptyukh clocked in at 19:32.5 for third after two misses (0+2).

“This morning I believed I could be in the hunt for the victory. The body felt great,” Arendz said, according to a team press release. “Missing the first shot, I knew the win would have slipped out of my hands, but I had to ski myself back into contention and focused what I needed to do to secure some crystal.

“I’m thrilled to have been as consistent as I was this season,” Arendz added. “It shows the improvement I have made on the shooting range, and it is paying off in competition. The string of seconds does show me there is still room for improvement. That will add to my drive over the next 12 months.”

Finishing the season once again on the podium, Masters earned second in the women’s 6 k sitting biathlon race, completing the course in 20:41.0 after one miss (1+0). Shooting clean for the win in 20:33.8 was Germany’s Eskau. Her German teammate, Wicker, claimed the third and final podium spot in 21:51.7 after tying Master’s shooting score.

“I feel like I had a pretty great season, especially coming off training for a complete other sport that uses a complete opposite motion not too long ago,” Masters said according to a U.S. Paralympics press release, referring to her handcycling training for the 2016 Summer Olympics. “I’m really happy with my season and my training; I feel extremely hopeful to have to good races in PyeongChang next year.

“It feels so good to hold on to that overall world cup title for cross-country and it feels so amazing to be ranked third overall in biathlon because that was one of my goals this season: To be in the top three,” she added.

For his third win of the week, Ukraine’s Yarovyi claimed first in the men’s 7.5 k sitting biathlon race, finishing in 24:13.4 after three misses (2+1). Germany’s Fleig finished behind him in second, clocking in at 24:22.5 after one miss (1+0). Larsen took the final podium spot in 24:44.2 after also missing one shot (0+1).

Just missing the podium in fourth was American Pike, who shot one miss and clocked in at 24:51.6. Soule followed in seventh, finishing 25:40.7 with two misses (1+1).

Ukraine’s Shyshkova won the women’s 6 k visually impaired biathlon race in 19:46.4 after two misses (0+2). Second place went to Germany’s Klug in 19:52.2 after one missed shot (0+1), while Prylutska of Ukraine claimed third in a 21:10.0 after three missed shots (1+2).

In the men’s 7.5 k visually impaired biathlon event, Reshetynskiy of Ukraine won in 20:00.1 after two misses (1+1). His Ukrainian teammate Suiarko shot clean for second place in f 20:03.8, while Kazik, also of Ukraine, claimed third in 20:13.3 after two misses (1+1). For the U.S., Adicoff finished sixth in 21:59.5 with five misses.

Results: Women | Men

— Gabby Naranja

Win No. 2 for Adicoff; Masters Remains Undefeated; First Win for Cameron

Left to right: Americans Dan Cnossen, Oksana Masters and Aaron Pike after placing third, first and second in their respective cross-country events on Monday at the IPC World Cup in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo: Oksana Masters/Twitter)

After a rest day following two days of racing, the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) fourth weekend of World Cup racing continued Monday, March 13 in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the men’s and women’s cross-country sprint races. Complete recap and results below. 

***

Day 3

Six for six. That’s how many IPC cross-country races American Oksana Masters has entered and it’s also how many she’s won. After ending last season undefeated in cross-country races, Masters has continued her winning streak into the 2016/2017 season, taking her sixth cross-country title on Monday in the women’s sitting sprint.

Masters finished first in a time of 3:26.85, besting German Andrea Eskau’s second place time of 3:40.34. Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva took third in a time of 3:45.92.

Two more Americans competed in Monday’s sitting sprint, Kendall Gretsch, who made it to the finals and crossed fifth in a time of 3:56.12 and Joy Rondeau, who finished 11th in a time of 4:24.15.

An all-North American podium occurred in the men’s sitting sprint, with Canada’s Collin Cameron leading the way in first, finishing in a time of 3:06.08. The win was a career-first for Cameron, and one he won’t forget.

“It’s amazing. It is the best feeling of my life,” Cameron said according to a Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team press release. “It’s nice to see my hard work in training, and experience from my last two sprint races this year, pay off with a victory here in PyeongChang.”

“I definitely built up a lot of confidence from my previous results in this event,” Cameron added. “Utilizing everything I have learned in those races to race smarter, and faster, it all paid off today.”

American Dan Cnossen took second, clocking in in a time of 3:04.73, while his teammate Andy Soule claimed third in 3:09.66.

Finishing fifth after making the final was American Aaron Pike, crossing in a time of 3:05.78. Two more Americans competed in Monday’s sprint, with Sean Halstead finishing 12th in a time of 3:21.28 and Bryan Price in 18th in a time of 3:31.55.

Chris Klebl was the top Canadian, crossing ninth in a time of 3:15.02. His teammates Sebastien Fortier finished 16th in a time of 3:28.32, Yves Bourque 23rd in a time of 3:42.16, and Ethan Hess in 24th in a time of 3:45.21.

Claiming second in the women’s standing sprint was Canada’s Emily Young, finishing in a time of 5:31.36. Oleksandra Kononova of Ukraine finished ahead of Young, crossing in a time of 5:18.05. Her Ukrainian teammate, Liudmyla Liashenko took third, crossing in a time of 5:26.79.

Also competing for Canada were Brittany Hudak, who finished seventh in a time of 5:33.57, and Caroline Bisson, who finished in a time of 6:31.24 for 11th.

In the men’s standing sprint, it was Grygorii Vovchynskyi of Ukraine who took the win, crossing first in a time of 4:14.92. Japan’s Yoshihiro Nitta came in second, finishing in a time of 4:05.02. Ukrainian Ihor Reptyukh claimed the final spot in third, crossing in a time of 4:25.22.

American Ruslan Reiter was the top North American in the men’s standing division, finishing in 13th in a time of 4:50.47. Canada’s Louis Fortin finished 18th in a time of 5:23.92, while Canadian Andy Lin did not start.

In the women’s visually impaired sprint, Sviatlana Sakhanenka of Belarus won in a time of 5:16.07. Austrian Carina Edlinger claimed second in a time of 5:26.17, while Oksana Shyshkova of Ukraine took third in a time of 5:33.84.

American Mia Zutter was the only North American in that race and placed seventh in 6:48.54.

Earning his second-career victory, American Jake Adicoff crossed first in the men’s visually impaired sprint, clocking in in a time of 4:10.00. Yury Holub of Belarus crossed second in a time of 4:24.04. Rounding out the podium in third was Iurii Utkin of Ukraine, who finished in a time of 4:36.51.

Results: Women | Men

***

The fourth day of racing at the PyeongChang IPC World Cup included long-distance biathlon races on Tuesday, March 14.

Day 4

For her second-career biathlon win, Masters raced to first in the women’s 12.5-kilometer sitting biathlon race, finishing in a time of 51:55.8 after missing three shots (2+0+1+0). Germany’s Anja Wicker earned second in a time of 53:00.3 after shooting 100 percent, while her teammate Eskau finished third in a time of 53:19.1 with one miss (1+0+0+0).

Clocking in in a time of 1:09:37.1 for fifth was Rondeau, after missing seven shots (2+1+1+3).

After missing the podium in Monday’s cross-country sprint, Pike made his way into the top three, finishing second in the men’s 12.5 k sitting biathlon event on Tuesday. Pike clocked in at 54:32.8 after two misses (0+0+1+1). Ahead of Pike was Germany’s Martin Fleig, who won in a time of 52:22.8 after two missed shots (0+1+1+0).

Cnossen rounded out the podium, placing third after five misses (1+2+0+2) and covering the course in a time of 54:46.3.

Three more U.S. skiers completed the event, with Soule finishing seventh in 56:19.8 after six misses (2+2+1+1), Halstead 11th in a time of 59:31.5 after five misses (1+1+1+2), and Price 14th in a time of 1:00:42.8 after four misses (0+1+1+2).

Canadian Derek Zaplotinsky finished in 12th in a time of 1:00:02.8 after three missed shots.

Kononova reached the podium once again, finishing first in the women’s 12.5 k standing biathlon event in a time of 46:12.0 after three missed shots (2+0+1+0). Her Ukrainian teammate Liashenko took second, clocking in in a time of 47:19.5 after three misses (1+1+0+1).

Rounding out the all Ukrainian podium in third was Iryna Bui, finishing in a time of 49:36.1 after one miss (0+0+0+1). Just missing the podium in fourth was Canada’s Hudak, completing the course in a time of 50:54.9 after shooting clean.

Canada’s Mark Arendz claimed second once again, this time in the men’s 15 k standing biathlon event. Arendz completed the course in a time of 53:49.8 after one miss (1+0+0+0). Finishing ahead of Arendz was France’s Benjamin Daviet, who covered the course in a time of 52:07.7 after three missed shots (0+2+0+1).

Rounding out the third and final podium spot was Vovchynskyi of Ukraine, finishing in a time of 54:50.0, after missing one shot (0+0+0+1).

Moving up after placing second in the biathlon sprint was Shyshkova of Ukraine who won the women’s 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon race in a time of 48:16.6 after one missed shot (0+0+0+1). Her Ukrainian teammate Olga Prylutska, finished second in a time of 51:27.6 after missing three shots (1+0+1+1). German Clara Klug claimed the final podium spot in third shooting 100 percent and finishing in a time of 51:45.3.

American Zutter finished in fifth in a time of 1:07:50.6 with seven misses (2+2+2+1).

Ukraine’s Utkin once again reached the podium, this time snagging first in the men’s 15 k visually impaired biathlon event. Utkin covered the course in a time of 53:46.0 after shooting 100 percent. His Ukrainian teammate Iaroslav Reshetynskiy finished second, clocking in at 54:51.7 after one missed shot (0+0+1+0).

The third and final podium finisher in the event was Belarus’s Vasili Shaptsiaboi who completed the course in a time of 55:09.1 with three misses (1+0+2+0).

Results: Women | Men

— Gabby Naranja

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.

***

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

***

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

IPC Ukraine World Cup Recap

The second seven-day-long International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup race series began Friday, Jan. 13 in Western Center, Ukraine, and ran until Friday, Jan 20. Athletes of both genders competed in three cross-country events as well as three biathlon events. No North Americans–men or women–competed in this IPC week.

***

Day 1: Women’s 2.5 k/7.5 k & Men’s 5 k/10 k Classic Events

Friday the 13th may not be a lucky day for many athletes, but for Germany’s Andrea Eskau, it was the kickstarter to a three-day winning streak.

Her first victory came in the women’s 2.5-kilometer classic event, which she won in a time of 10:17.6. She finished ahead of Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva, who finished in a time of 10:49.9 for second place and China’s Beibei Chu, who finished third in a time of 11:20.0.

In the men’s 5 k classic ski ski event, Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin claimed first in a time of 18:14.6. Second place went to Maksym Yarovyi of Ukraine in a time of 18:30.9, while his Ukrainian teammate Taras Rad took third in a time of 18:50.8.

The Ukrainian women’s team earned their first win on home soil for the week with Oleksandra Kononova’s victory in the women’s 7.5 k standing classic event. Kononova completed the course in a time of 19:53.1, besting her Ukrainian teammate Iuliia Batenkova, who finished in a time of 20:04.9 for second place.

The third and final podium spot went to Yurika Abe of Japan in a time of 21:19.3.

Another Ukrainian took the top spot in the men’s standing 10 k classic event, with Ihor Reptyukh emerging victorious with a winning time of 26:12.9. Second place went to Finland’s Ilkka Tuomisto in a time of 26:27.1, while Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynski claimed third after posting a time of 26:56.8.

The final women’s event for the day, the 7.5 k visually impaired classic event, went to Austria’s Carina Edlinger, who finished in a time of 21:52.9. Olga Prylutska of Ukraine finished in second after completing the course in a time of 22:00.8 and her Ukrainian teammate, Oksana Shyshkova took the final podium spot in a time of 23:43.5.

France’s Thomas Clarion claimed the top spot in the men’s 10 k visually impaired standing event, finishing in a time of 25:15.9. Second place went to Yury Holub of Belarus in a time of 26:54.9, while Ukraine’s Dmytro Suiarko took third in a time of 26:59.5.

Results: Women | Men

Day 2: Women’s 12 k/15 k & Men’s 15 k/20 k Freestyle Events

Germany’s Andrea Eskau earned her second win in a row on Sunday, Jan. 15, racing to a first place finish in the women’s 12 k sit skiing event. She completed the course in a time of 43:07.1, besting her German teammate Anja Wicker, who finished in second place in a time of 45:22.1. The final podium spot went to Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva, who finished in a time of 45:33.2.

Eui Hyun Sin of Korea also claimed his second win in a row, racing to a first place finish in the men’s 15 k sit skiing event. Sin finished in a time of 45:53.3 for first, once again ahead of Ukrainian sit skier, Maksym Yarovyi in second in a time of 46:20.0. Third went to Belarus’s Dzmitry Loban in a time of 47:32.9.

An all Ukrainian podium occurred in the women’s 15 k standing freestyle event, with Oleksandra Kononova claiming her second victory in a row ahead of her teammates Iuliia Batenkova and  Liudmyla Liashenko. Kononova completed the course in a time of 50:11.3, while Batenkova finished in 50:14.8 and Liashenko in 51:18.5.

Also claiming his second win in a row was Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh, who won the men’s 20 k standing freestyle event in a time of 57:05.7. Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset earned second place, clocking in at 57:54.8. The third and final podium spot went to Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynski in a time of 59:51.5.

Moving up from her Day 1 third place to a first place finish on Day 2 was Oksana Shyshkova, who won the women’s 15 k visually impaired freestyle event in a time of 52:49.6. Austria’s Carina Edlinger returned to the podium, this time in second place after completing the course in a time of 53:56.4. Olga Prylutska of Ukraine claimed the final podium spot in a time of 54:39.4.

A repeat first place performance greeted France’s Thomas Clarion, who won the men’s 20 k visually impaired freestyle event in a time of 56:25.9. His French teammate, Anthony Chalencon earned second place, after completing the course in a time of 58:42.7, while Iurii Utkin took third in a time of 58:55.9.

Results: Women | Men

Day 3: Women’s & Men’s Freestyle Sprints

Athletes returned to the race venue on Monday, Jan. 16 for the final day of cross-country competitions, freestyle sprints.

Andrea Eskau took her third win in a row, winning the women’s sit sprint in a time of 3:33.18. Crossing behind her in second was Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva in a time of 3:47.89. Norwegian Birgit Skarstein snagged her first podium of the week, crossing third in a time of 3:47.73.

In the men’s sit sprint, it was Maksym Yarovyi of Ukraine who took the win, crossing first in a time of 3:04.26. Crossing behind him in second was Dzmitry Loban of Belarus in a time of 3:17.97, while Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin claimed third, crossing in a time of 3:12.43.

For the second day in a row, Ukraine’s women swept the standing podium, with Oleksandra Kononova winning the women’s standing freestyle sprint event in a time of 4:14.10. Second place went to her teammate Liudmyla Liashenko in a time of 4:18.51, and third to Iryna Bui, who crossed in a time of 4:43.13.

Grygorii Vovchynski of Ukraine won the men’s standing freestyle sprint event, besting his teammate Ihor Reptyukh for first. Vovchynski crossed in a time of 3:41.16 and Reptyukh in 3:30.60. Rounding out the podium for Day 3 was Finland’s Ilkka Tuomisto, who crossed in a time of 3:43.21 to claim third.

Holding onto her first place position for the second day in a row was Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova, who crossed first in the women’s visually impaired freestyle sprint in a time of 4:22.65. Second place went to her Ukrainian teammate Olga Prylutska, who crossed in a time of 4:27.96, while Austria’s Carina Edlinger claimed third in a time of 4:30.05.

Making his way to the top of the men’s visually impaired sprint podium on Monday was Iurii Utkin of Ukraine, who crossed first in a time of 3:34.68. Second place went to his Ukrainian teammate Anatolii Kovalevskyi, crossing in a time of 3:36.33, while third went to Belarus skier, Yury Holub in a time of 3:37.98.

Results: Women | Men

Day 4: Women’s 12.5 k & Men’s 15 k Biathlon Events

With the completion of the week’s cross-country events, Tuesday, Jan. 17 marked the first of three biathlon competitions for IPC competitors in Western Center, Ukraine.

Proving her hand in shooting as well as skiing, Andrea Eskau took her fourth win of the week, racing to a first place finish in the women’s 12.5 k sitting biathlon event. Eskau clocked in at 49:11.5 after two missed shots (0+0+1+1).

Second place went to Lidziya Hrafeyeva of Belarus in a time of 52:19.7 also with two misses (1+0+0+1), while third was claimed by Germany’s Anja Wicker in a time of 52:30.0 with four missed shots (4+0+0+0).

For his first medal of the week, Norway’s Trygve Steinar Larsen took the win in the men’s 15 k sitting biathlon event, finishing in a time of 48:33.8 after just one missed shot (0+0+0+1). Dzmitry Loban of Belarus took second in a time of 49:31.0 with two missed shots (0+2+0+0), and rounding out the final men’s podium spot was Taras Rad of Ukraine, who clocked in at 49:41.7 and missed two shots (0+0+0+2).

Continuing her cross-country victories into biathlon, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova emerged victorious in the women’s 12.5 k standing biathlon event, completing the course in a time of 45:40.9 after missing four shots (2+1+0+2). Second place went to Japan’s Momoko Dekijima, who finished in a time of 48:09.2 after two misses (1+0+0+1), while third place went to Ukraine’s Iuliia Batenkova in a time of 48:33.3 with four missed shots (0+1+2+1).

France’s Benjamin Daviet earned his first podium of the week, winning the men’s 15 k standing biathlon event in a time of 40:59.7 after shooting clean. Nils-Erik Ulset of Norway claimed second place, clocking in in a time of 43:17.7 after one miss (0+1+0+0), while Grygorii Vovchynski of Ukraine took third, completing the course in a time of 43:58.4 also with one miss (1+0+0+0).

The final women’s event on the day, the 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon event, went to Oksana Shyshkova of Ukraine, who completed the course in a time of 45:06.4 with one miss (0+0+0+1). Her teammate Olga Prylutska claimed second in a time of 45:12.7 after tying Shyshkova’s shooting score. The final podium spot went to Germany’s Clara Klug, who shot 100 percent and completed the course in a time of 47:09.0.

In the men’s visually impaired 15 k biathlon event, Anthony Chalencon of France took first in a time of 44:20.2 after shooting clean, while Belarus’s Vasili Shaptsiaboi raced to a second place finish, clocking in at 44:58.2 and missing one shot (0+0+0+1). Also with one miss (0+0+1+0) was third place finisher, Iaroslav Reshetynskiy of Ukraine, who complete the course in a time of 44:58.8.

Results: Women | Men

Day 5: Women’s 6 k and Men’s 7.5 k Biathlon Events

Breaking Germany’s winning streak in the women’s sitting events, Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva claimed first in the 6 k sitting biathlon event on Thursday, Jan. 19, completing the course in a time of 24:06.3 after shooting 100 percent.

Germany’s Anja Wicker took second in a time of 25:30.1 with two missed shots (0+2), while her German teammate, Andrea Eskau took third in a time of 26:39.8 after four misses (1+3).

Taras Rad of Ukraine won the men’s 7.5 k standing biathlon event, clocking in at 23:40.8 after shooting clean.  Second place went to Dzmitry Loban of Belarus in a time of 24:40.2 after two missed shots (1+1), while third place went to Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi in a time of 25:08.8 after four missed shots (3+1).

Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova once again, won the women’s standing biathlon event, completing the 6 k course in a time of 18:29.5 after two misses (1+1). Second place went to her Ukrainian teammate Liudmyla Liashenko in a time of 19:10.7 after one miss (0+1). Rounding out the final podium spot was Iryna Bui, also of Ukraine, who clocked in at 20:27.4 after three missed shots (3+0).

The men’s 7.5 k standing biathlon event once again went to France’s Benjamin Daviet, who completed the course in a time of 21:01.1 after one miss (1+0). Tying his score for second place was Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset, who clocked in in a time of 21:49.4. Third place went to Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh, who completed the course in a time of 0 21:53.6 after two missed shots (2+0).

Olga Prylutska of Ukraine won the women’s 6 k visually impaired biahtlon event, clocking in in a time of 19:51.9 after two misses (1+1). Shooting clean was Germany’s Clara Klug, who completed the course in a time of 21:12.9 for second place. Oksana Shyshkova of Ukraine claimed the final podium spot in third, finishing in a time of 21:33.6 after four misses (2+2).

On the men’s side, Vitaliy Lukyanenko of Ukraine won the 7.5 visually impaired biathlon event, completing the course in a time of 22:29.8 after shooting 100 percent. Second place went to Iurii Utkin, also of Ukraine, in a time of 22:46.1 with two misses (1+1), while Ukraine’s Iaroslav Reshetynskiy earned third place after tying Utkin shooting score and clocking in at 23:01.1.

Results: Women | Men

Day 6: Women’s 10 k & Men’s 12.5 k Biathlon Events

The final week’s IPC event took place on Friday, Jan. 20 with athletes competing in a middle distance biathlon event.

Working her way back to the top of the results was Germany’s Andrea Eskau, who won the women’s 10 k sitting biathlon event in a time of 40:34.5 after missing two shots (0+1+0+1). Shooting clean was her teammate Anja Wicker, who claimed second in a time of 41:10.0. Third place went to Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva, who completed the course in a time of 43:35.2 after four missed shots (1+2+0+1).

Reaching the podium for the first time during the week on Friday was Germany’s Martin Fleig, who finished first in the men’s 12.5 k sitting biathlon event. After shooting 100 percent, Fleig clocked in at 40:21.4 for the win. Finishing behind Fleig in second was Belarus’s Dzmitry Loban, who clocked in at 40:29.6 after one miss (0+1+0+0). Third place went to Taras Rad of Ukraine in a time of 41:06.6 after two missed shots (0+1+0+1).

Completing a six-in-a-row winning streak was Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova, who claimed first in the women’s 10 k standing biathlon event in a time of 29:36.7 after shooting clean. Second place went to her teammate, Liudmyla Liashenko, who also shot 100 percent, and finished in a time of 31:09.6. The third and final podium spot went to their Ukrainian teammate, Iuliia Batenkova, who completed the course in a time of 33:18.9 after one miss (0+0+0+1).

Back on the podium on the men’s side was France’s Benjamin Daviet, who won the men’s 12.5 k standing biahtlon event in a time of 35:25.9 after shooting clean. Ihor Reptyukh claimed second place in a time of 35:50.1 after two missed shots (1+0+0+1), while Norwegian Nils-Erik Ulset took third in a time of 36:31.4 after shooting 100 percent.

Oksana Shyshkova won the women’s 10 k visually impaired biathlon event, clocking in in a time of 33:06.3 after two missed shots (1+1+0+0). Germany’s Clara Klug claimed second, finishing in a time of 36:29.2 with four misses (0+2+1+1), while Ukraine’s Olga Prylutska took third in a time of 36:58.0 after seven missed shots (1+2+2+2).

The men’s final event, the 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon event, went to Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko, who clocked in in a time of 38:50.0 after shooting clean. Second place went to Anatolii Kovalevskyi,also of Ukraine, in a time of 39:11.0 after four missed shots (3+0+0+1). Rounding out the final podium spot in third was Ukraine’s Dmytro Suiarko, who finished in a time of 39:57.7 and missed three shots (3+0+0+0).

Results: Women | Men

— Gabby Naranja

Second Cross-Country World Cup Win of the Week for Masters on Day 5 of IPC

After an exhibition relay event on Wednesday, paralympic nordic athletes returned to the competition venue on Thursday, Dec. 15 for Day five of the 2016/2017 International Paralympic Cup season’s opening races in Vuokatti, Finland. Thursday marked the men’s and women’s distance classic events, with Oksana Masters of the U.S. claiming her second cross-country World Cup win of the week, her third total. Full race recap and results detailed below.

***

If  U.S. paralympian Oksana Masters keeps it up, she may not only finish one International Paralympic Cup (IPC) season undefeated, but two in a row. The 27-year-old raced to her second cross-country World Cup win of the week on Thursday, putting down the fastest time for the women’s 12-kilometer classic sit ski race.

Masters covered the course in a time of 41:23.8, besting Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva, who finished behind Masters in second in a time of 43:09.5.

Another Belarusian skier, Liudmila Vauchok, took the final podium spot, completing the course in a time of 44:09.9 for third place overall.

In the men’s 15 k classic sit ski event, Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi took first place in a time of 44:32.3. Second went to Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin in a time of 45:25.9, while the U.S.’s  Daniel Cnossen took the final podium spot in third in time of 46:07.3.

American Andy Soule also competed in the event, finishing in 11th overall in a time of 50:53.3.

Ukraine saw another podium sweep in the women’s 15 k classic standing event with Oleksandra Kononova taking the top spot after covering the course in a time of 51:09.0. Second place went to Iuliia Batenkova and third to Liudmyla Liashenko. Batenkova finished in a time of 51:52.4 and Liashenko in 52:13.9.

The only North American woman to compete in the event, Brittany Hudak finished in fifth overall, clocking in at 54:45.7.

In the men’s 20 k classic standing event, Ukrainian ski racer Ihor Reptyukh claimed first, finishing in a time of 51:21.6. Finishing in a time of 51:59.6 was Finland’s lkka Tuomisto in second place overall, third went to Canada’s Mark Arendz who clocked in in a time of 52:14.1.

The women’s 15 k classic visually impaired race went to Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova, who finished in a time of 55:44.6. In second place overall was Austria’s Carina Edlinger in second in a time of 2 56:32.3. The final podium spot went to another Ukrainian Olga Prylutska, who finished in a time of 58:22.5.

The final event of the day, the men’s 20 k visually impaired event, was claimed by Sweden’s Zebastian Modin, who clocked in in a time of 52:48.6. France’s Thomas Clarion finished second in a time of 54:02.3, while the final podium spot went to  of Ukraine, who clocked in in a time of 54:29.3.
Results: Men | Women

Three North Americans Reach the IPC Podium on Day 3 in Vuokatti

 

Monday, Dec. 11 marked Day three of the 2016/2017 International Paralympic Cup season’s opening competitions in Vuokatti, Finland. Athletes returned to the venue for the distance biathlon races, with Canada’s Mark Arendz and the U.S.’s Daniel Cnossen and Oksana Masters once again reaching the podium in their respective events. Full race recap and results detailed below.

***

Canada’s Mark Arendz rendered his second silver medal in a row after finishing second in the International Paralympic Cup (IPC) men’s 15-kilometer biathlon standing event on Monday, Dec. 11 which took place in Vuokatti, Finland.

“There were a few things I can take away from the race to work and improve on, but in the end, it was a solid day,” Arendz said according to a Cross Coutntry Canada press release. “Unfortunately I had the one miss in my third bout. It was a breathing error after a troublesome setup. But it is early in the race season. I’m ecstatic for the results I’ve been able to achieve so far.

Arendz completed the course in a time of 45:53.3 after one miss (0+0+1+0). In first place was Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset who covered the course in a time of 41:54.4 after shooting clean.

“For me it was the perfect race, I felt like I had good control from the start,” Ulset said during a television interview. “After the first round of shooting I felt really confident and knew what I was going to do for the rest of the race. It was one of the best races I have ever done.”

Rounding out the men’s biathlon standing  podium was France’s Benjamin Daviet who missed four shots (1+0+2+1) and completed the 15 k in a time of 46:21.5. American Ruslan Reiter also competed in Monday’s event, finishing in 15th overall.

Ukraine swept the women’s 12.5 k biathlon standing podium, with Oleksandra Kononova taking the win in a time of 42:47.9 after missing three shots (1+1+1+0) and her teammates Liudmyla Liashenko and Iuliia Batenkova placed second and third respectively. Liashenko completed the course in a time of 44:09.1 with three misses (2+0+0+1), while Batenkova finished in a time of 46:44.2, also with three misses (0+0+2+1).

Just outside of the podium was Canada’s Emily Young in fourth overall with two misses. Young completed the course in at time of 48:12.5.

American Daniel Cnossen reached the podium once again, this time in the men’s 15 k biathlon sitting event. Cnossen placed third after skiing the course in at time of 58:10.9 with four missed shots (1+2+0+1). Taking the win was Ukraine’s Taras Rad who shot 100 percent and skied the course in a time of 52:58.1. Behind Rad in second was Germany’s Martin Fleig with two misses (0+1+0+1), clocking in in a time of 54:33.8.

“The race was good,” Rad said during a television interview. It was a little bit difficult, but I tried my best.”

Also competing was the U.S’s Andrew Soule who finished in 10th overall and Canada’s Derek Zaplotinsky.

The second American to reach the podium on Monday was U.S. paralympic athlete, Oksana Masters. Masters raced to a second place overall in the women’s 12.5 k biathlon sitting event, clocking in in a time of 1:00:01.4 after five misses (0+4+0+1), while Germany’s Anja Wicker took the win in a time of 58:21.2 after shooting clean.

Rounding out the podium in third was Lidziya Hrafeyeva of Belarus. Hrafeyeva finished the 12.5 k in a time of 1:01:20.0 with three misses (1+1+1+0).

Another Ukrainian, Iurii Utkin, reached the podium in the men’s 15 k biathlon visually impaired event after completing the course in a time of 45:54.9 after shooting 100 percent. Finishing second overall Belarus’s Vasili Shaptsiaboi in a time of 47:05.5 after two missed shots (0+0+2+0). Ukraine’s Anatolii Kovalevskyi took the final podium spot, finishing third in at time of 1:01:20.0 with three misses (1+1+1+0).   

In Monday’s final ski race, Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova took the win in the women’s 12.5 k biathlon visually impaired race, completing the course in a time of 42:37.2 after shooting clean. Her Ukrainian teammate, Olga Prylutska finished second in a time of 45:11.9 after one miss (0+0+1+0). Also shooting clean and finishing in third overall was German skier Clara Klug, who completed the course in at time of 47:10.1.

Resuts: Men | Women

Masters Claims First Biathlon World Cup Win on Day 2 in Vuokatti; Four Titles for Ukraine

Day two of the 2016/2017 International Paralympic Cup season’s opening races in Vuokatti, Finland took place on Saturday, Dec. 10, with many athletes returning to the trails for a biathlon sprint. U.S. paralympic ski team member, Oksana Masters tallied her second win in a row, while Canada’s Mark Arendz and American Daniel Cnossen also made the podium in their respective events. Full race recap and results detailed below.

***

While U.S. paralympic skier Oksana Masters has plenty of cross-country International Paralympic Cup (IPC) titles to her name–she ended last season undefeated in every cross-country event and opened this season with a win–Saturday marked her first victory in a biathlon World Cup.

“I feel completely shocked because Anja Wicker out shot me but I was able to ski a little faster to narrowly take the win,” Masters wrote in an email to FasterSkier.

Finishing first in the the women’s 6-kilometer biathlon sit sprint on Saturday in Vuokatti, Finland, Masters bested both Germany’s Anja Wicker and Belarus’s Lidziya Hrafeyeva to take the win. After a total of four missed shots (2+2), Masters completed the course in a time of 27:01.7.

Wicker meanwhile, shot clean and finished in a time of 27:59.9 for second place overall. Hrafeyeva missed five shots (3+2) and raced to a third place finish overall in a time of 28:39.6.

“There are many new faces which is always exciting,” She added, referring to the competition field in Vuokatti. “With these two wins so far I am happy knowing that my training is progressing well especially after switching Focus from skiing to cycling this past summer.”

A number of North American men were entered in the men’s 7.5 k biathlon sit sprint on Saturday, with American ski racer Daniel Cnossen claiming silver behind first place finisher, Dzmitry Loban of Belarus.

Loban won the 7.5 k sprint course in a time of 26:05.6 after one miss (0+1), while Cnossen clocked in at 26:06.7 after shooting 100 percent.

Rounding out the final podium spot was Germany’s Martin Fleig, who finished in a time of 26:21.9 after tying Loban’s shooting score.

U.S. paralympic skier, Andrew Soule finished the day in fifth overall, completing the course in a time of 27:49.0 after tying both Loban and Fleig’s shooting score. Two other North Americans raced the 7.5 k sprint, including American Aaron Pike who finished in 12th overall and Canada’s Derek Zaplotinsky who came in 13th.

Saturday saw Ukraine take first in all four of the remaining biathlon sprint divisions, with a full podium sweep by the country in the women’s standing biathlon sprint.

Oleksandra Kononova claimed the overall title in the women’s 6 k standing sprint, while her teammates Liudmyla Liashenko and Bohdana Konashuk took second and third respectively.

“Yesterday wasn’t so successful, I made some mistakes,” Kononova said during a television interview. “But it made today even better, it brought [me] more confidence.”

Kononova completed the course in a time of in a time of 20:51.4 after four misses (2+2) for the win. Liashenko missed two shots (2+0) and finished in a time of 20:56.4 for second place and Konashuk clocked in in a time of 21:59.5 with just one miss (1+0).

The lone North American in the women’s standing biathlon sprint, Canadian Brittany Hudak finished in sixth overall after completing the course in a time of 23:56.4 with two misses (1+1).

Despite feeling fatigued from yesterday’s cross-country standing sprint event, in which he placed third overall, Canada’s Mark Arendz raced to a second place on Saturday in the men’s standing biathlon 7.5 k sprint.

“I could feel yesterday’s effort in my legs,” Arendz said according to a Cross Country Canada press release. “The fitness was there but I wasn’t able to get into that next gear so I was a little disappointed to bleed so much time in the last lap.”

After shooting 100 percent, Arendz completed the course in a time of 19:39.4.

“My focus was on the range,” Arendz added. “although it wasn’t my best shooting I was able to clean to keep me in the race.”

Finishing ahead of Arendz and taking first was Ukrainian ski racer Ihor Reptyukh, who finished in a time of 19:31.0 after missing one shot (1+0).

The final podium spot in the men’s standing biathlon sprint went to France’s Benjamin Daviet who finished in a time of 19:44.6 after one miss (0+1).

Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova won her second race in a row, taking the women’s title in the women’s visually impaired 6 k biathlon sprint. Shyshkova shot clean, completing the course in a time of 21:11.5.

Her Ukrainian teammate Olga Prylutska finished in a time of 23:11.8 after one miss (1+0). Tying Prylutska’s shooting score was third place finisher Clara Klug of Germany in third place overall.

The men’s visually impaired 7.5 k biathlon sprint went to Anatolii Kovalevskyi of Ukraine, who completed the course in a time of 19:59.1 after cleaning. Iaroslav Reshetynskiy, also of Ukraine, reached Saturday’s podium after shooting clean and clocking in at 20:31.1. The final podium spot went to Belarus skier, Vasili Shaptsiaboi who tied Reshetynskiy and Kovalevskyi’s shooting scores and completed the 7.5 k course in a time of 20:39.1.

Results: Men | Women

Masters and McKeever Emerge Victorious in Opening IPC Cross-Country Races in Vuokatti

The opening races for the 2016/2017  International Paralympic Cup season took place this past Friday, Dec. 9, in Vuokatti, Finland with a few North American names topping the podium in their respective events. For the U.S. women, Oksana Masters tallied her first win of the season in the sit sprint event, while Canada’s Brian McKeever won the men’s visually impaired classic sprint competition. Full race recap and results detailed below.

***

After she ended last season undefeated in every International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup cross-country event, U.S. paralympic athlete Oksana Masters kept her winning streak going when she took gold in the women’s cross-country sit sprint during the opening races of the IPC 2016/2017 season this Friday, Dec. 9.

With the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro just a few months behind her–she competed in the Rio Paralympic games as a handcyclist-– Master saw her victory on Day 1 of racing in Vuokatti, Finland as somewhat unexpected.

I just came off Rio and I only had a few weeks to train from cycling to skiing and especially on snow–we were only on snow for three weeks, so I was so nervous,” Masters said during a television interview. “I had no expectations.”

Masters crossed first in a time of 2:21.26 seconds, besting Norway’s Birgit Skarstein, who placed second in a time of 2:31.05 seconds and Finnish skier Sini Pyy who crossed in third in a time of 2:35.85 seconds.  

“I love the challenge. I’m so excited to see so many different classes of women’s sit skiers out here which makes it so fun,” Masters said, according to an IPC press release. “The final was really fun.”

In the men’s sit sprint event, it was Ukrainian ski racer Maksym Yarovyi who took the overall win, crossing in a time of 1:56.73 seconds. Second place went to Norwegian Trygve Steinar Larsen crossing in a time of 2:04.81, while third place went to Dzmitry Loban of Belarus in a time of 2:10.76.

American paralympic athlete Aaron Pike led Team USA in the men’s sit sprint event, placing fifth overall in a time of 2:07.45. U.S. paralympic teammates Daniel Cnossen and Andrew Soule made the semifinals, placing 9th and 11th respectively.

The lone Canadian in the men’s sit sprint event, Collin Cameron, also made the final and crossed in a time of 2:09.12 for sixth overall.

Earning her first ever World Cup win in the women’s standing classic sprint event, was Japan’s Yurika Abe, who took the victory in a time of 3:53.74.

“I am really surprised,” Abe said according to a IPC press release. “ It was a good time for me!”

Rounding out the women’s standing classic sprint podium was Ukrainian skier Iuliia Barenkova, who cross in second in a time of 3:59.23 seconds and Canada’s Emily Young finishing in a time of 4:13.89 seconds for third.

“What a day and great way to start the World Cup season,” Young said according to a Cross Country Canada press release. “My goal was to ski the fastest and smartest race I could, and be happy with any result.”

The men’s standing classic sprint went to Grygorii Vovchynskyi of Ukraine, who crossed first in a time of 3:04.87. Finnish skier Ilkka Tuomisto took second place in a time of 3:01.64 seconds, while Canada’s Mark Arendz secured the final podium spot in third, crossing in a time of 3:11.51 seconds.

“It was a tight finish, but I stayed calm and knew my skis would keep me in the fight,” Arendz said, according to a Cross Country Canada press release. “I came back onto the leaders. Lunging for the line I passed fourth place but couldn’t quite reach second. It was a fantastic way to start the new season, and confirms the work I’ve done over the summer is working. The fitness is there and I’m excited for the rest of the week.”

Also competing in the men’s standing classic sprint was the U.S.’s Ruslan Reiter, who finished in 21st overall.

In the women’s classic visually impaired sprint, another Ukrainian topped the podium, with Oksana Shyshkova finishing first in a time of 3:55.52 seconds. Austria’s Carina Edlinger crossed in second in a time of 3:56.81, while Germany’s Clara Klug took third in a time of 4:16.13.

Canada took home a gold in the men’s visually impaired classic sprint competition, with Brian McKeever emerging the overall winner at the end of Day 1. McKeever crossed in a time of 3:02.76, besting Sweden’s Zebastian Modin, who finished second in a time of 3:03.73 and Ukraine’s Iurii Utkin, who crossed third in a time of 3:17.70.

“Modin especially showed he’s the guy who has been coming up for years, and he gets better every year, so it’s still good to race against him and feel like I’m competitive in the sprints,” McKeever said according to an IPC press release. “The long distances are usually better. I’m happy, it was a good day. The skis were great, the technicians did a good job and everyone is in good spirits.”

Results: Men | Women

McFadden Ties for Most Medals at Rio Paralympics; Pike 10th in Marathon

U.S. Paralympian Tatyana McFadden after taking silver in the women's final event of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, the T54 marathon. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics Facebook)

U.S. Paralympian Tatyana McFadden after taking silver in the women’s final event of the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games, the T54 marathon, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics/Facebook)

The 2016 Paralympic Summer Games wrapped up on last Sunday with the men’s and women’s T54 marathon road race, taking place on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After covering the 26.2-mile course amidst temperatures in the mid-80s, it came down to a photo finish between American Tatyana McFadden and China’s Lihong Zou.

Zou edged McFadden by a wheel for the win, and both finished in 1:38.44. McFadden, of Clarksville Md., took second for her sixth medal of the Games while her U.S. teammate Amanda McGrory, of Savoy, Ill., crossed one-hundredth of a second behind her for bronze.

“In London, I didn’t medal in the marathon because I had technical difficulties but here, it was great to come home with a silver,” McFadden, who has been competing since the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece, told U.S. Paralympics, according press release. “I’ve worked really, really hard and it’s a great way to end the Games.”

The night before the marathon, McFadden won the women’s T54 800-meter in 1:44.73.  China’s Wenjun Liu finished 0.29 seconds behind her for silver, and Yingjie Li, also from China, was 0.5 seconds back in third. McGrory missed the podium in fourth by one-hundredth of a second.

McFadden’s medal count for these Games — four gold and two silver — is tied with U.S. swimmer Jesssica Long and is the most Paralympic medals earned by a U.S. track and field athlete since Bart Dodson won eight gold medals at the 1992 Barcelona Games. McFadden has 17 career Paralympic medals, seven of which are gold.

“I have lots of homework,” she told NBC Sports. “I know what I need to do next time. Hopefully a little stronger and smarter. I’m ready for Tokyo [2020].”

Aside from McFadden and McGrory, two other U.S. women competed in the marathon, including Shirley Reilly, of Tucson, Ariz., who finished in fifth (+2.0) and Susannah Scaroni of Urbana, Ill., in seventh (+3.0). Chelsea McClammer, of Richland, Wash.,  did not finish.

Aaron Pike, a nordic skier from Park Rapids, Minn., placed 10th in the men’s marathon in 1:30.13, and was the only U.S. man to finish. Switzerland’s Marcel Hug won in 1:26.16, edging Australia’s Kurt Fearnley by 0.01 seconds. About 4 seconds after Hug, South Korea’s Dae Gyu Kim placed third.

Americans Josh George, of Herndon, Va., and James Senbeta, of Philadelphia, dropped out around the midway point.

Results:

Sept. 17:  Women’s T53 800

Sept. 18: Women’s T54 marathon | Men’s T54 marathon

Update: No Russians in Rio, But Paralympians Not Banned from Pyeongchang

(Note: This post has been updated to include details about the IPC’s announcement on Thursday that it will not allow individual Russian athletes to participate at the Rio Paralympics, despite fielding more than 175 individual requests. Also, on Wednesday, the Swiss Federal Tribunal dismissed the Russian Paralympic Committee’s request for provisional measures to allow its athletes to participate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.)

***

After much confusion, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) reiterated in a statement earlier this week that Russia is not banned from the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, despite the Russian Paralympic Committee’s declaration that it was.

The IPC stated it was “currently in the process of developing the steps the Russian Paralympic Committee will need to take to meet its membership obligations” and “By rule, the Russian Paralympic Committee’s suspension will be lifted immediately following the Governing Board’s determination that the member is once again able to meet its membership obligations in full,” Insidethegames.biz reported.

The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) initially posted on its website that its ban from the 2016 Rio Paralympics extended to Pyeongchang 2018.

“The decision taken by the IPC, upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding Russian Paralympians being excluded from the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, has also been extended to include the Winter Games in 2018 in Pyeongchang,” the RPC stated.

That statement appeared to have been altered Tuesday when the IPC clarified that the ban did not include 2018.

In the wake of a nationwide ban from Rio, the RPC confirmed that more than 100 of its athletes, which would have competed there, filed personal appeals. Russia also appealed to the Swiss Federal Court, which on Wednesday dismissed the RPC’s request to allow its athletes to compete in Rio.

The IPC fielded more than 175 letters from Russian Paralympic athletes and announced Thursday in a press release that it would not allow any of them to compete as neutral athletes at the Rio Games, which start Sept. 7.

“The IPC has considerable sympathy for all of the Russian athletes who are now unable to participate in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games,” IPC CEO Xavier Gonzalez said. “Indeed, the main goal of the IPC is to enable Para athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world. Tragically, however, the Russian authorities have denied their athletes this chance through their actions.

“Once the Russian Paralympic Committee demonstrates that it will be able in the future to enforce the IPC Anti-Doping Code vigorously and effectively, without interference, the IPC will be glad to welcome Russian athletes back to international competition,” he added.

Earlier this week, RPC President Vladimir Lukin insisted that the IPC never clarified criteria regarding membership restoration and said his committee wrote to the IPC seeking more information.

“We will be working with the IPC to find out what sort of a road map they are drafting or perhaps have already prepared,” Lukin said.

Unable to compete in Rio, Russia is reportedly organizing its own competition for its Summer Paralympians, set to take placed in Sochi or Crimea. President Vladimir Putin has promised prizes equal to those awarded to Olympians.

Russian Paralympic Committee Appeal Dismissed

(Press release)

On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by the Russian Paralympic Committee against its suspension by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

The IPC suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on Aug. 7 due to its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory).

Sir Philip Craven, IPC President, said: “We are greatly encouraged that the CAS Panel has upheld the IPC Governing Board’s unanimous decision to hold the Russian Paralympic Committee accountable for its membership responsibilities and obligations.

“Today’s decision underlines our strong belief that doping has absolutely no place in Paralympic sport, and further improves our ability to ensure fair competition and a level playing field for all Para athletes around the world.

“Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration and we have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.  It is a sad day for the Paralympic Movement, but we hope also a new beginning.  We hope this decision acts as a catalyst for change in Russia and we can welcome the Russian Paralympic Committee back as a member safe in the knowledge that it is fulfilling its obligations to ensure fair competition for all.

“The IPC Governing Board’s decision was taken with the best interests of the Paralympic Movement at heart, as was the IOC’s ruling for the Olympic Movement which I supported as an IOC Member during the IOC Session.

“As an autonomous organisation with a different governance structure to the IOC, the IPC’s decision was based on the fact that there is one sole IPC member in Russia responsible for both winter and summer Para sport.  We found that member – the Russian Paralympic Committee – not to be fulfilling its obligations in regards to the IPC Anti-Doping Code and World Anti-Doping Code and therefore decided to take the best course of action for the Paralympic Movement.

“Following this decision, our full focus is on sport and working with our partners to deliver a successful Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“Beyond Rio 2016, we will work with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to establish the criteria the Russian Paralympic Committee needs to meet in order to fulfil all its membership obligations and have its suspension lifted.

“We will also continue to work closely with the IPC Anti-Doping Committee and WADA on the measures to be taken to address the athletes implicated as part of the McLaren Report, including advice on results management.”

Following the CAS panel’s decision, the IPC will now work with International Federations to redistribute the 267 slots that had been secured by Russian athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Russian Paralympic Committee Appeals Suspension

The Russian Paralympic Committee has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) suspended its membership, the IPC announced in a press release on Monday.

Based on an agreement between the two parties, the appeal will be heard by the CAS this Sunday, Aug. 21, and the CAS will announce its final decision by midnight (Central European Summer Time) on Monday, Aug. 22.

Just over a week ago, the IPC suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on Aug. 7 because it failed to comply with its IPC Anti-Doping Code and World Anti-Doping Code. Russia is hoping to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, which start in early September, but is currently banned from all IPC competitions.

Masters Takes Another Win and Fourth Individual Podium in Finsterau (Updated)

Three U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiers at the IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Germany, including Oksana Masters (r). "That's a wrap from Finsterau Germany! Oksana Masters hits the podium in 3rd in the final IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Biathlon race with great shooting! Veteran Teamers Andy Soule & Sean Halsted both had great performances here, as did our rookies Joy Rondeau (NSCD) & Mia Zutter (CXC Skiing) in their first international competitions. We are back here in 1 year for World Champs!" (Photo: U.S. Paralympics Nordic Program/Facebook)

Three U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiers at the IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Germany, including Oksana Masters (r). “That’s a wrap from Finsterau Germany! Oksana Masters hits the podium in 3rd in the final IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Biathlon race with great shooting! Veteran Teamers Andy Soule & Sean Halsted both had great performances here, as did our rookies Joy Rondeau (NSCD) & Mia Zutter (CXC Skiing) in their first international competitions. We are back here in 1 year for World Champs!” (Photo: U.S. Paralympics Nordic Program/Facebook)

By Gabby Naranja

(Note: This post has been updated to include comments from U.S. Paralympics Nordic coach Eileen Carey.)

Just as paramount to the prized top step of the podium is the process of getting there.

U.S. skier, Oksana Masters, can attest to that after spending the beginning of the season battling illness and then emerging with double victories at the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) World Cup races in Finsterau, Germany.

“I love to race and get excited on every start line,” Masters, who took her second win of the week in the women’s 1-kilometer sitting sprint on Saturday, Feb. 27, wrote in an email. “I unfortunately was sick for a majority of the racing season and I had to miss lots of intensity. When I was healthy to do intensity we made sure that it would be the most beneficial and get the most out of it. I was so shocked to race as well as I did in Finsterau.”

Masters crossed first in a time of 3:26.51. With the next series of races in Finsterau being the 2017 IPC World Championships, Masters regarded the World Cup good practice for next year’s competition.

“One of the challenges I had was the technicality of the course.” Masters wrote. “I am still learning how handle my sit ski without losing speed especially during the technical aspects. The biggest part [where] I am losing time is all in the technical parts of the course. So this year I took every opportunity to nail each technical aspect of the course one by one. This was great to practice…”

Finishing in second place was Maria Iovleva of Russia, and in third place was Andrea Eksau of Germany.

Another American Joy Rondeau also raced in Saturday’s sit sprint. She finished the day in ninth, missing the semifinal by one spot.

On Saturday, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova not only celebrated her birthday, but also a tie for first with Russia’s Anna Milenina in the women’s 1 k freestyle standing sprint.

After review of the photo finish, jury members found the image too close to call and ruled both as winners in a time of 3:18.86. Ukraine’s Liudmyla Liashenko took the final podium spot in third.

Also competing in Saturday’s standing sprint was Canada’s Emily Weekes. Weekes advanced to the semifinal, where she finished eighth overall, just two spots off of advancing to the final. Lindsey McDonald, also of Canada, finished the day in 13th.

In the women’s final sprint event of the day, the 1 k visually impaired freestyle sprint, Russia’s Mikhalina Lysova won in a time of 3:23.25. Crossing the finish line after her was Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova in second and Elena Remizova of Russia in third. American Mia Zutter also competed in the visually impaired sprint, racing to an 11th place overall.

In the men’s field, it was a strong showing for Americans Andy Soule and Sean Halsted. Both advanced to the men’s 1 k sitting sprint final where Soule placed third and Halsted sixth.

“A great dayof racing and a lot of fun on SPRINT DAY! here in Finsterau,” Soule wrote on twitter, regarding Saturday’s race.

Russia’s Ivan Golubkov racked his third individual win of the week, finishing first in the sit sprint in a time of 2:55.18. Crossing in second place was Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi.

The three Canadian competitors, Collin Cameron, Derek Zaplotinsky, and Yves Bourque, all advanced to the semifinal where they finished ninth, 11th, and 12th, respectively.

In the men’s 1 k standing sprint, Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtsev took first in a time of 2:40.58, ahead of Russian teammate Rushan Minnegulov in second and Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi in third.

Canada’s Mark Arendz raced to an eighth-place finish overall and teammates Louis Fortin and Andy Lin finished the day in 20th and 21st, respectively. 

The sprint final for the men’s visually impaired 1 k sprint saw a Russian sweep, with Stanislav Chokhlaev in first, Vladimir Udaltcov in second and Oleg Ponomarev in third.

Chokhlaev won the event in a time of 2:42.31, for his third individual victory of the week.

Results: Women | Men

Sunday: Fourth Podium for Masters in Third

The unexpected podiums, at times, are the most prized. After a six days of racing at the IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Masters closed the competition week with another podium in her final event on Sunday, Feb. 29: the women’s 10 k sitting biathlon race.

“Aahh this was such an amazing unexpected podium,” Masters wrote on Twitter after Sunday’s race. “My biathlon shooting is heading in the right direction.”

Previously, Masters had claimed two victories in Finsterau along with a second-place finish in last Monday’s biathlon sprint.

“The biathlon days were super tricky because it was so windy and often the wind would be so unpredictable between each shot the wind would change,” Masters wrote in an email. “Everyone is on the same course and is dealing with the same conditions and I tried to take it all as opportunity.”

Her third place-finish on Sunday made Masters four for four — all the individual races she entered, she finished on the podium. Masters completed the course in a time of 36:06.0 after skiing three penalty laps (0+0+1+2).

“I kept myself calm by not putting any expectations on myself especially for the biathlon, so I just focused on the technical skiing aspect and took the time in the range at the tempo of what I was comfortable with,” she wrote.

Ahead of Masters was Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova in first and Germany’s Anja Wicker in second. Konovalova finished in a time of 35:51.7 after three misses (0+2+0+1), while Wicker cleaned the four-stage race.

The second American to compete in the sitting biathlon event was Rondeau, who finished in eighth overall with eleven penalties (1+5+3+2).

In the women’s 10 k standing race, Kononova of Ukraine skied away victorious in a time of 30:50.5 and one penalty (0+0+1+0). Finishing in second was Russia’s Milenin , also with one miss (0+0+0+1). Taking the third podium spot was Ukraine’s Liashenko with two penalties (0+0+1+1).

Canada’s Weekes finished the day in sixth overall with two penalties (1+0+0+1).

Ukraine’s Shyshkova won the women’s 10 k visually impaired biathlon event in a time of 32:40.9 after shooting 100 percent. Lysova of Russia took second place with three misses (0+2+0+1) and Remizova third after missing four shots (1+2+1+0).

In the men’s biathlon events, Grigory Murygin of Russia won the 12.5 k sitting race in a time of 36:38.3 after shooting clean. Russian teammate, Roman Petushkov finished second, with one miss (0+0+0+1) and Germany’s Martin Fleig third with four penalties (0+0+0+4). Soule finished just off the podium in fourth after skiing four penalty laps (1+2+1+0).

“I have been focusing on some minor tweaks in my skiing form and range procedure that I identified with the help of my coaches earlier this year,” Soule wrote in an email regarding his progress this season.

“Both Andy and Oksana have made great gains this winter and the results from Finsterau were a reflection of those gains,” U.S. Paralympics Nordic coach Eileen Carey wrote in an email, recapping the week. “Andy was working on conserving energy in the sprint qualifier and semis to have enough juice left for a strong finals performance, and his medal in that event was indicative of that work.  He will continue to tweak his warm-up routine and his approach to semis to see what works best for him, but his strong performance in Finsterau was a good indication of what he is capable of.

“Oksana has been very strong in cross country and has been working hard on bringing her biathlon up to the same level,” Carey added. “She medaled in both of the biathlon events she competed in, and with the strongest field and in the trickiest wind we have seen yet this winter.  This was a huge step forward for her and I think gives her more confidence going into the World Cup finals this month in Finland.”

Halsted finished 10th in the final biathlon race with 10 misses (2+2+3+3). Zaplotinsky of Canada finished ninth after missing three shots (1+2+0+0) and Canadian teammate Cameron finished 11th, with 10 misses.

In the men’s 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon event, Chokhlaev came away with the title after shooting clean, completing the course in a time 33:44.6. Second place went to Nikolay Polukhin of Russia, who also cleaned. Finishing third, also with 100 percent shooting was Ukraine’s Oleksandr Kazik.

The final men’s biathlon event of the day, the men’s 12.5 k standing competition went to Russia’s Lekomtsev who shot clean and completed the course in 31:34.1. France’s Benjamin Daviet took second after one miss (0+0+0+1) and Russia’s Alexsandr Pronkov took the final podium spot in third with one penalty (0+1+0+0). Canada’s Arendz did not start on Sunday.

With the IPC World Cup in Finsterau complete, racers take a break before heading to Vuokatti, Finland, for the season-ending World Cups March 15-20.

“A full day of pouring rain in the beginning of the competition week put the trails in rough shape and the OC delayed one of the race days so we ended up racing four days in a row,” Carey explained. “It was the right decision for the courses and the race crew did an incredible job to make sure we had exceptional skiing for the event, but it made for a challenging schedule. Some athletes ended up sitting out a race they may have otherwise competed in, but others competed in all 4 races.  Ultimately, it turned out to be a great opportunity to work on recovery strategies.

“While we likely wouldn’t have a Games schedule that included that much racing, there are so many other factors in a Games situation that require a ton of energy,” she added. “Figuring out how to make sure you get what you need as an athlete to best prepare yourself for races is a critical skill and one we will always welcome improving upon.”

Results: Women | Men

Masters Breaks Up Russian XC Sweep; Soule on the Podium at Finsterau World Cup

Oksana Masters racing to a cross-country distance victory at the IPC World Cup at Finsterau, Germany. (Photo: US Paralympics Nordic/Facebook)

Oksana Masters racing to a cross-country distance victory on Day 3 of the IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Germany. (Photo: US Paralympics Nordic Program/Facebook)

By Gabby Naranja

Scientific research suggests the loss of one sense sharpens the others. In biathlon for visually impaired skiers — who must detect the targets using auditory tonal cues — this finding holds a high ring of truth. Though tracking down target centers using sound alone seems superhuman, Russian para-nordic skier Stanislav Chokhlaev proved when it comes to aiming using his ears, he’s one of the best.

With just one miss (0+1), Chokhlaev topped the men’s 7.5-kilometer visually impaired biathlon sprint last Monday, Feb. 22, kicking off the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) World Cup races in Finsterau, Germany, with a win.

Besting Russian teammate Nikolay Polukhin, Chokhlaev completed the men’s three-loop race in a time of 24:34.1 for the overall win. With two misses, Polukhin settled in second place overall. Third place went to Ukraine’s Iurii Utkin, who shot clean.

The Russian reign over the top spot continued, with Ivan Golubkov finishing first in the men’s 7.5 k sitting biathlon event. After skiing five penalty laps (3+2), Golubkov won in a time of 26:10.4.

Andy Soule after placing third on the first day of the IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Germany, with teammate Sean Halsted, who placed 10th, giving him a thumbs up as well. (Photo: US Paralympics Nordic/Facebook)

Andy Soule after placing third on the first day of the IPC World Cup in Finsterau, Germany, with U.S. teammate Sean Halsted, who placed 10th, giving him a thumbs up as well. (Photo: US Paralympics Nordic/Facebook)

Racing to a second-place finish on his home course was Germany’s Martin Fleig with two misses (1+1). Tying Fleig’s shooting score was American Andy Soule, who snagged the day’s final podium spot in third place overall.

“These races have been really good for me from a mental standpoint.” Soule wrote in an email. “I am definitely starting to see progress on some of the minor changes in my skiing form and shooting procedure that I have been working on for a long time.”

U.S. skier and Air Force Veteran, Sean Halsted raced to 10th place, with the same shooting score as race winner Golubkov.

Two Canadians, Derek Zaplotinsky and Collin Cameron also competed in the sitting biathlon race. Zaplotinsky placed 12th after nine penalties (4+5) and Cameron finished behind his teammate in 13th with five misses (1+4).

The final men’s event of the day, the 7.5 k biathlon standing sprint went to France’s Benjamin Daviet who cleaned his shooting and completed the course in a time of 23:47.4.

Finishing behind him in second and third, respectively, were Russia’s Alexsandr Pronkov and Vladislav Lekomtsev. Pronkov also shot clean, while Lekomtsev completed two penalty loops (1+1).

Canadian Mark Arendz competed in the biathlon standing sprint and raced to ninth place –just outside of earning World Cup points — with five misses (2+3).

In the women’s 6 k biathlon competitions, Ukraine took the top two spots in the visually impaired event, Oksana Shyshkova winning over teammate Olga Prylutska. After shooting 100 percent, Shyshkova completed the women’s three-loop race in a time of 24:14.1 for first place. Prylutska missed one shot (0+1) and raced to second overall. Shooting clean, third place went to Germany’s Vivian Hosch.

The lone North American racing in the visually impaired biathlon event, American Mia Zutter finished in 10th, after skiing five penalty laps (4+1).

In the women’s 6 k biathlon sitting sprint, Russian skier Irina Guliaeva took first in a time of 24:05.7 after two misses (1+1). American Oksana Masters raced to second place with two misses (0+2). Rounding out the top three was Russia’s Nadezhda Fedorova in third with three penalties (2+1).

The second American to compete in the event, Joy Rondeau raced to a seventh place after skiing nine penalty laps (4+5).

The final women’s event of Day 1, the 7.5 k standing biathlon sprint, saw a double podium finish for Ukraine, with Oleksandra Kononova in first and teammate Liudmyla Liashenko in second. After shooting clean, Kononova completed the women’s three-loop standing course in a time of 23:23.4. Liasheko missed three shots (1+2) to finish second, ahead of third-place finisher Anna Milenina of Russia, who missed five (2+3).

Day 1 Results: Men | Women

Day 2

The second day of racing in Finsterau brought competitors out for a 4 x 2.5 k mixed gender and open relay.

Russia took the top two spots in the mixed relay, with their first four-person team of Fedorova, Milenina, Mikhalina Lysova, and Polukhin finishing first in 30:45.9. Russia’s second team, with Irina Guliaeva, Elena Remizova, Aleksandr Davidovich, and Stanislav Chokhlaev, finished 3.8 seconds later in second place.

Ukraine took third (+45.5), with their three-person team of Utkin, Kononova, and Liashenko. 

Just out off the podium was Canadian in fourth (+1:42.2), with Chris Klebl, Emily Weekes, Brittany Hudak, and Arendz comprised Canada’s mixed team relay.

“We get few opportunities to race together as a team so it was great to race well,” Arendz said in a team press release. “Our team is improving regularly since last year’s World’s Championships so it is good to be heading in the right direction.”

In the open relay, Russia once again won, with the four-person team of Roman Petushkov, Lekomtsev, Ivan Kodlozerov, and Rushan Minnegulov taking gold in 28:18.8.

Ukraine finished second, 10.3 seconds back, with Iaroslav Reshetynskiy, Ihor Reptyukh, Maksym Yarovyi, and Anatolii Kovalevskyi.

Rounding out the podium was France’s three-person open relay team of Benjamin Daviet, Anthony Chalencon, and Thomas Clarion for third place (+20.5).

Canada’s four-person open relay team of Lindsey McDonald, Andy Lin, Yves Bourque, and Louis Fortin finished ninth overall (+12:01.8).

Day 2 results: Mixed Relay | Open Relay

Day 3

Every distance cross-country victory on Day 3 went to Russia — except for one. The sole non-Russian winner last Thursday, Masters of the U.S. won the women’s 12 k classic sitting distance event in a time of 37:48.9.

Masters bested her closest competitors by almost a minute, with Russian second-place finisher Nadezhda Fedorova finishing 47.8 seconds off Master’s time and Russian skier Irina Guliaeva, finishing 55.9 seconds back.

“Awesome race today by an incredible athlete and great teammate,” Soule posted with a photo of Masters on Twitter.

The second U.S. competitor for the day was Rondeau, who finished in seventh (+9:41.3) garnering World Cup points as well.

The rest of the Thursday’s winning spots all went to Russia. Setting the streak was Russia’s Milenina winning the women’s 15 k classic standing competition in a time of 47:23.6.

Finishing 28.3 seconds behind Milenina’s time in second, was Ukraine’s Kononova. The final podium spot in the 15 k classic went to Ekaterina Rumyantseva of Russia, who finished 3:38.6 behind her teammate.

Three Canadian women competed in Thursday’s 15 k classic standing event. Hudak finished in sixth (+4:09.4), Weekes was seventh (+6:26.7) and McDonald in 12th (+25:27.3).

In the women’s 15 k classic visually impaired cross-country competition, Russia racked up its second win, with Mikhalina Lysova finishing first in a time of 48:03.5. Just 10.5 seconds behind Lysova’s winning time was Russian teammate, Elena Remizova in second. Third place (+2:41.4) went to Ukraine’s Shyshkova, the winner of Monday’s biathlon sprint.

Russia tallied their third victory of the day with Golubkov’s win in the men’s 15 k classic sitting event. In his second individual first place finish of the week, Golubkov completed the 15 k in a time of 40:02.1.

Russian teammate Aleksandr Davidovich finished in second (+1:35.0) and Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi in third (1:51.7). Just outside of the podium, Soule placed fourth (+2:13.1) and U.S. teammate  Halsted finished sixth (+4:01.1).

“The men’s sit field is very strong in IPC nordic, and I was up against some great skiers every day,” Soule wrote in an email. “I just have to approach each race one at a time, and focus on good procedure, technique, and recovery for the next day.”

The three Canadian men in the 15 k sit ski event, all earned World Cup points with Cameron finishing in ninth (+7:52.0), Zaplotinsky 10th (+8:33.7) and Bourque 11th (+9:53.3). Klebl did not start.

“It was a tough day with icy conditions and we may have missed the wax a bit, but the team put in a solid effort today,” Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team Head Coach Robin McKeever said in a press release. “Our goal for this trip was to leverage this World Cup to provide some elite level competition for our development opportunities. That was a surprise and very strong effort by Collin today who is showing tremendous potential.”

The men’s 20 k classic standing race saw Russia’s Minnegulov top the podium, after he raced the 20 k course in a time of 47:55.5. Finishing 34.9 seconds behind Minnegulov in second place was Ukraine’s Reptyukh. Another Ukrainian secured a podium spot, with Grygorii Vovchynskyi finishing 39.4 seconds behind his teammate in third (+1:14.3).

Russia’s Chokhlaev added another individual victory to his list, after he won the third men’s event of the day: the 20 k classic visually impaired race.

Chokhlaev completed the course in a time of 50:15.6, besting his teammate Alexsander Artemov by 1:18.4. Finishing in third after Artemov was Ukrainian skier Dmytro Suiarko, 1:41 behind Chokhlaev’s time.

Day 3 results: Women | Men 

Day 4 

As the sun finally broke through the clouds on Day 4 of the IPC World Cup in Finsterau, so did a few familiar as well as new names to the top spots. Russia’s Petushkov raced to his first win of the week, Germany’s Fleig finishing behind him  for his second runner-up finish, this time in the men’s 15 k sitting biathlon race.

“Due to the improved weather, the track was much better than during my race on Monday [the sprint],” Fleig said in an interview with the IPC. “It was really fun competing with sunshine rather than rain and snow. Although the sun was a little tricky during shooting.”

Fleig missed one shot (0+0+1+0) and finished in a time of 45:13.0, while the race winner Petushkov also skied one penalty (0+1+0+0), but finished 7.1 seconds faster in a time of 45:05.9. With two penalties (2+0+0+0), third place went to Russia’s Golubkov. 

The top American male for the day, Soule finished in eighth overall after skiing five penalty laps (1+0+3+1). Finishing just behind Soule in ninth was Halsted, also with five misses (1+2+1+1). Canada’s Zaplotinsky finished in 11th with eight penalties (1+1+2+4).

“The organizers did a great job, and had an especially challenging time when it started raining on the day after opening.” Soule wrote in an email. “They had to move a race back one day, but put the courses back together really well. Overall it was a beautiful venue with great courses and I am looking forward to competing here again next year at world championships.”

In the men’s biathlon 15 k biathlon standing event, Ukraine’s Reptyukh shot 100 percent and won in a time of 37:35.3.  In second place was Russia’s Lekomtsev with one miss (0+0+0+1). Tying Reptyukh’s shooting was Ukrainian teammate, Vovchnskyi in third.

Canada’s Arendz placed fifth, after shooting 19-for-20 (0+0+0+1).

The third men’s event on Friday included the men’s 15 k visually impaired biathlon race.  After shooting clean, Russia’s Polukhin won in 39:41.4. Ukraine’s Kovalevskyi finished second with one penalty (0+0+0+1) and teammate Utkin finished in third with two penalties (1+0+1+0).

On the women’s side, Russia’s Guliaeva won the women’s 12.5 k sitting biathlon race, completing the course in 41:25.0 with 20-for-20 shooting.

Germany’s Anja Wicker raced to a second place finishing after also shooting 100 percent.

“The race was fun and the weather has improved a lot,” Wicker said in an IPC press release. “With nearly no wind the shooting went smooth.”

In third place was Russia’s Fedorova with four penalties (1+0+2+1).

Contributing to Ukraine’s week winnings was Liashenko in the 12.5 k standing biathlon race. Liashenko cleaned and won the event in a time of 37:45.4. Finishing behind her time in second was Russia’s Rumyantseva with one miss (1+0+0+0). The third podium spot went to Natalia Bratiuk of Russia after skiing one penalty loop (0+0+1+0).

Canada’s Weekes and Hudak finished in ninth and 11th, respectively. Weekes missed five shots (0+1+2+2) and Hudak had 10 penalties (1+1+3+5).

The third women’s event of the day, the women’s 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon race , went to Ukraine’s Shyshkova. After cleaning, Shyshkova completed the course in a time of 38:41.7. Second-place finisher Lysova of Russia missed two shots (0+1+1+0). After one penalty (0+0+0+1), Germany’s Hosch raced to a third pace overall.

Day 4 results: Men | Women

Masters with Back-to-Back Wins; Arendz Tops Biathlon Race; 4 Podiums for Soule in Pyeongchang

Note: This post has been updated to include comments from Andy Soule.

Many Olympic hopefuls and athletes know the importance of practice in relation to performance. After Pyeongchang, South Korea, was named the host site for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, athletes from the U.S., Canada, China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea got plenty of competition practice on the course trails during the 2016 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing Asian Cup, which took place this year Jan. 28 until Feb. 1.

Day 1

The IPC Asian Cup began last Thursday, Jan. 28, with a cross-country classic sprint.

A member of the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing team, Oksana Masters — a bronze medalist in rowing at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, silver medalist in the women’s 12-kilometer freestyle classic sitting event and bronze medalist in the 5 k classic sitting event at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi — won the women’s 1.1 k classic sitting sprint final on Thursday in a time of 2:59.37.

Finishing in second after Masters was Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova ahead of her teammate Irina Guliaeva, who crossed in third.

In the women’s 1.4 k classic standing sprint, Russia’s Ekaterina Rumyantseva took the win, completing the course in a time of 4:45.95.

Brittany Hudak of the Canadian Para-Nordic World Cup Team racing at IPC Asian Cup in  Pyeongchang, South Korea.  (Photo: CCC)

Brittany Hudak of the Canadian Para-Nordic World Cup Team racing at IPC Asian Cup in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Photo: CCC)

Brittany Hudak of the Canadian Para-Nordic World Cup Team finished second in a time of 4:52.99.

“I am really happy with my overall performance [Thursday],” Hudak said in team press release. “I really tried to focus on skiing with efficient technique and with good skis on my feet. I’m super pleased that I felt strong in the final,” she added.

In third was Japanese skier, Yurika Abe completing the 1.4 k course in 5:09.7.

The first day of racing for the men saw two Russians in the top two for the men’s 1.1 k classic sit sprint podium.

Aleksandr Davidovich place first in a time of 2:45.29. His teammate Roman Petuschkov finished second overall.

American Andy Soule also ended the day on the podium, racing to a third place.

In the men’s 1.4 k classic standing sprint, Russia once again took the top spot, with Vladislav Lekomtsev winning the event in a time of 3:49.26.

Canadian biathlon specialist Mark Arendz raced to a second place overall in the cross-country event, clocking in at 3:56.17.

“It was a great start to the year. For a first race, there were a few little things that I still need to work on, but overall I’m happy with the performance,” said Arendz in a press release.

“I worked hard on my classic skiing in training so it is rewarding to see it come together. To be near the front of a very competitive field is very satisfying,” he added.

Third in the men’s 1.4 k classic standing sprint was Japanese ski racer Yoshihiro Nitta, finishing in a time of 4:00.37.

Japan’s Kazuto Takamura placed first in the third men’s event on Thursday, the 1.4 k classic visually impaired sprint. Takamura completed the course in a time of 5:00.10. In second was South Korea’s Bogue Choi, who finished in 5:01.39.

Day 2

Friday, Jan. 29, marked the second day of racing for athletes at the Pyeongchang Asian Cup, with the middle-distance freestyle cross-country events.

Masters once again outmatched her competition peers, winning the women’s 2.5 k freestyle sit-ski in a time of 8:29.1, claiming her second victory in a row in Pyeongchang.

The previous day’s Russian podium finishers flip-flopped places, with Guliaeva moving up to second place (8:58.2) and her teammate Konovalova finishing in third (9:27.0).

In the women’s 7.5 k freestyle standing event, Rumyantseva stood atop the podium once more, after racing to first place in a time of 18:28.4.

Another Russian, Natalia Bratiuk finished second, completing the 7.5 k course in 19:49.9.

Canadian newcomer and a former wrestler, Emily Weekes made reached the podium in third (19:59.8).

“My goal for wrestling was to compete at the Olympics in 2018. And so now to have a second chance, even though it’s not able-bodied and it’s not wrestling,” Weekes said in a press release, “It’s a lot of catch up, but it’s really exciting.”

Friday for the men proved Russia’s Davidovich again unbeatable, as he raced to his second victory, this time in the men’s 5 k freestyle sit event, in a time of 14:51.5.

World Cup podium veteran Chris Klebl of Canada, raced to second place behind Davidovich (15:17.9).

Soule raced to another third-place finish, crossing the line in 15:19.2.

The men’s 10 k freestyle standing event was dominated by the Russians, with all three podium spots taken by Russia.

Rushan Minnegulov claimed first in a time of 20:11.7. His teammates Lekomtsev (20:17.8) and Aleksandr Pronkov (20:18.4) crossed in second and third respectively.

The men’s 10 k freestyle visually impaired event saw Japan’s Takamura again in first (26:48.4) and South Korean Choi in second (27:22.9).

Day 3

After a day of rest, racing picked up again on Sunday with biathlon sprints.

IPC Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing World Championships silver medalist, Konovalova won the women’s 6 k sitting biathlon sprint in a time of 20:47.4, with one miss (0+1).

In second was her Russian teammate Guliaeva, who completed the course in 21:20.2 with three misses (1+2). Masters crossed in third (23:03.1) also with three misses (0+3).

Russia’s Rumyanseva continued her winning streak, claiming yet another victory in the women’s 6 k standing biathlon sprint in a time of 19:21.6 and shot clean (0+0).

Russian teammate Bratiuk matched her result from Friday, finishing Sunday’s 6 k biathlon standing sprint event in second (21:36.5) with one miss (1+0).

Japan’s Abe also finished on the podium in third (22:57.5) with two misses (2+0).

With perfect shooting the most decorated single athlete at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, Russia’s Petushkov top the charts in the men’s 7.5 k sitting biathlon sprint on Sunday, finishing in a time of 23:08.3.

In his third podium of the week, Soule placed second (24:25.6) with four misses (2+2).

Rounding out the top three was Russian Gregory Murygin (24:41.2) with three misses (1+2).

The men’s 7.5 k standing biathlon sprint on Sunday witnessed Pronkov in first in a time of 18:32.4 with one miss (1+0).

Canada’s Arendz came in second (18:52.8) also with one miss (1+0). Third place finisher, Ivan Kodolozerov shot clean and completed the course in 19:03.2.

South Korea’s Choi was the lone competitor in the men’s 7.5 k visually impaired biathlon sprint and completed the course in 27:26.6 with four misses (3+1).

Day 4

Mark Arendz on his way to winning the men’s 12.5 standing biathlon on Monday at the IPC Asian Cup in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Photo: CCC)

Mark Arendz on his way to winning the men’s 12.5 standing biathlon on Monday at the IPC Asian Cup in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Photo: CCC)

The final day of racing in Pyeongchang got underway on Monday with biathlon distance events.

Results in the women’s 10 k biathlon sitting event witnessed a repeat podium order from Sunday. Russia’s Konovalova shot 100 percent and once again came away victorious in a course time of 34:01.5.

With just one penalty, teammate Guliaeva came in second (34:29.4) and Masters, who missed five (3+2+0+0), finished in third (39:50.9).

Russia’s Rumyantseva remained undefeated, coming away triumphant in the women’s 10 k standing biathlon event in a winning time of 34:15.3 with one penalty (0+0+1+0).

Teammate Bratiuk maintained her previous place, finishing in second (37:37.6) with one miss in her final round of shooting (0+0+0+1).

Japan’s Momoko Dekijima reached the podium in third (38:45.7) with two misses (1+0+1+0).

In the final day of racing for the men, Russia’s Murygin moved up, winning the men’s 12.5 k sitting biathlon event on Monday in a time of 41:40.4 with two misses (1+0+0+1).

Despite seven penalties (2+2+1+2), Soule ended the day in second (42:25.2) for his fourth-consecutive podium in as many races in South Korea.

“I felt fit and fast,” Soule wrote in an email about his week. “There are some minor technique adjustments that I am working on with my coach, but overall I feel great about the way I am racing.
“The organizers did a fantastic job putting courses together,” he added. ” These are not the courses we will be racing on in 2018 but it was still great experience for us. … I am excited for the 2018 games. Everything there seems to be coming together well and it looks like they will put together an incredible event.
“These races were really a practice and tune up event for me and a chance to see the stadiums and the range for 2018,” Soule concluded.

On his home turf, South Korean skier Hyun Eui Sin placed third (43:24.7), with six misses (1+2+1+2).

With just one miss in his final round of shooting (0+0+0+1), Arendz broke the Russian regime, and took first place in the men’s 12.5 standing biathlon event in a time of 32:56.3.

“I just had to make it difficult on myself,” he said afterward.

“Skied a fantastic race to take the victory in PyeongChang despite missing a shot in the final bout of shooting,” he tweeted.

Two Russian skiers rounded out the podium with Kodlozerov in second (33:03.7) after shooting clean and Lekomtsev in third (33:30.4) after missing one shot in each round (1+1+1+1).

Choi was once again the lone competitor in the men’s 12.5 k visually impaired biathlon event, racing the course in time of 46:47.7 with six penalties (3+2+0+1).

The IPC nordic race schedule takes a two-and-a-half week break before commencing again on Feb. 21 in Finsterau, Germany.

Results:

Day 1: Women 1.1/1.4 k C Sprint | Men’s 1.1/1.4 k C Sprint

Day 2: Women 2.5/7.5 F Mid-Distance | Men 5/10 k F Mid-Distance

Day 3:Women 6 k Sprint | Men 7.5 k Sprint

Day 4: Women 10 k | Men 12.5 k

— Gabby Naranja 

Masters Honored with Best of March Team USA Award

 

Oksana Masters competes in the 12-kilometer women's sit-ski race at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Final in Surnadal, Norway. Masters captured gold in the event, winning the first medal of the competition for the U.S. team. (Photo: John Farra/U.S. Paralympics)

Oksana Masters competes in the 12-kilometer women’s sit-ski race at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Final in Surnadal, Norway. Masters captured gold in the event, winning the first medal of the competition for the U.S. team. (Photo: John Farra/U.S. Paralympics)

(Press release)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 10, 2014) – Notable performances during the month of March earned Paralympic Nordic skier Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky), shooter Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) and the ice dancing pair of Madison Chock (Novi, Michigan) and Evan Bates (Ann Arbor, Michigan) Best of March honors for the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, the United States Olympic Committee announced on Friday.

Masters claimed her final two gold medals of the 2014-15 season at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup final, held March 16-22 in Surnadal, Norway. She finished 52.8 seconds ahead of the field to win the 12-kilometer sitting cross-country race. Four days later, she clinched the overall women’s Nordic world cup title with a win in the middle distance event.

Read more on Masters’ World Cup win here.

Hancock made history by shooting a perfect world-record qualifying score of 125 to win the gold medal in men’s skeet at the ISSF Shotgun World Cup, held March 9 in Acapulco, Mexico. The reigning two-time Olympic gold medalists connected on all 157 targets, marking the first time a shooter has accomplished the feat since the new skeet rules were implemented after the London 2012 Olympic Games. The win marked the sixth world cup victory of his career.

Chock and Bates earned the ice dancing silver medal with a personal-best score of 181.34 at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, held March 23-29 in Shanghai. The second-place finish marked a career high and they were the only team to earn a level four – the highest awarded in figure skating – on each of their five elements in the short dance. The pair’s segment score of 74.47 was the highest of the event by 1.79 points.

Each National Governing Body may nominate one female, one male and one team per discipline. An internal nominating committee selects five nominees from both the male and female categories, and three from the team category to advance to the voting round. Votes received from NGB representatives account for 50 percent of the final tally, with the other half determined by online fan voting via TeamUSA.org.

In addition to Dow, the presenting sponsor, the Team USA Awards are supported by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kellogg’s, Samsung and USG.

Cnossen Captures Silver in World Cup Finals Pursuit; Arendz Repeats with Bronze

 

Lt. Dan Cnossen on his way to silver in the men's biathlon 12.5 k sitting pursuit on Friday at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics/Lediard Foto)

Lt. Dan Cnossen on his way to silver in the men’s biathlon 12.5 k sitting pursuit on Friday at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: U.S. Paralympics/Lediard Foto)

(Combined IPC/CCC/U.S. Paralympics press releases)

U.S. Paralympian and Navy SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen cleaned three-straight stages then missed two shots to come away with silver on Day 3 of the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals on Friday in Surnadal, Norway.

Cnossen finished second in men’s biathlon 12.5-kilometer sitting pursuit to end up on the podium for the first time at World Cup Finals. The starting positions in biathlon pursuit are based on the participants’ finishes in the biathlon sprint, in which Cnossen finished sixth. He ended up 54.4 seconds behind Russia’s Alexey Bychenok, who won in 41:43.8.

“That was a really fun race,” Cnossen told U.S. Paralympics after the pursuit. “I was chasing people right out of the gate, and I came into the range with three people and every time that happened it helped me to keep my mind in the game. It was a great day!”

Also for the U.S., Andy Soule held onto his fourth-place position to finish 1:25.9 back from the winner with three penalties (2+0+1+0) and 23.5 seconds off the podium (after Dzmitry Loban of Belarus in third).  In the women’s biathlon 10 k sitting pursuit, Oksana Masters started and finished fifth, 4:48.9 behind German winner Anja Wicker (38:49.9).

One of two non-Russian winners on Friday, Wicker also won Wednesday’s sprint. She cleaned to stay ahead in the pursuit, 40.9 seconds ahead of runner-up Natalia Kocherova of Russia. Belarus’ Lidziya Hrafeyeva finished 3:04.2 back in third.

In the men’s 12.5 k standing, Canada’s Mark Arendz finished third for the second-straight race with three penalties (1+0+2+0). He ended up 1:12.1 behind Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtcev, who started first and won in 35:31.4 despite missing three shots. Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi finished 26.8 seconds back in second with a single miss on the first stage.

“There was a lot of misses shooting today which highlighted the race,” Arendz said in a team press release. “It was a very tight race and many lead changes throughout the day. It was a great race for me, especially a strong finishing lap that moved me into podium position despite my difficulties shooting.”

In the women’s 10 k standing, Ukraine’s Liudmyla Liashenko upset teammate Oleksandra Kononova, who won all three biathlon titles at IPC World Championships earlier this year. Liashenko, 21, was the other non-Russian winner, tallying the victory in 30:40.1 with one penalty on the first shooting.

Kononova missed seven and finished second, 39.2 seconds back, and Japan’s Yurika Abe was 1:03.5 back in third.

With a win in the women’s 10 k visually impaired pursuit, Russia’s Iuliia Budaleeva, guided by Tatiana Maltseva, remains the lone athlete with an unbeaten streak at World Cup Finals.

Budaleeva topped the podium in 33:10.5, beating two Ukrainians, Olga Prylutska (guided by Borys Babar) and Oksana Shyshkova (guided by Lada Nesterenko) by 1 minute and 1:35, respectively.

The men’s 12.5 k visually impaired pursuit saw the same three podium finishers as Wednesday’s sprint, but with the first and third swapping places.

Russia’s Nikolay Polukhin and guide Andrey Tokarev took the win in 39:22.9, nearly 42 seconds ahead of Ukraine’s Anatolii Kovalevski and guide Oleksandr Mukshyn, who again finished second. Both athletes missed a single shot. Wednesday’s winners Stanislav Chokhlaev and guide Evgenii Fatkhullin ended up third, 1:06 back.

IPC World Cup Finals continue through Sunday.

Results: Men | Women

Complete schedule/results

Arendz, Hudak Race to Bronze in Biathlon Sprints at IPC World Cup Finals

 

Mark Arendz (Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team) racing to bronze in the men's biathlon 7.5 k standing sprint on Wednesday at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: CCC/Facebook)

Mark Arendz (Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team) racing to bronze in the men’s biathlon 7.5 k standing sprint on Wednesday at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: Lediard Foto/CCC Facebook)

(Combined IPC/CCC press releases)

Canadian Mark Arendz fought his way into podium contention after a late penalty in the men’s 7.5-kilometer standing sprint on Wednesday, the first day of biathlon competition at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway.

The two-time Paralympian put down a fast last lap to finish 46 seconds behind defending world champion Vladislav Lekomtcev of Russia, who won in 17:20.1 with perfect shooting. Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset also shot clean to finish 44.9 seconds back in second.

“It was a great skiing race for me,” Arendz, 25, said in a Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team press release. “I was moving well throughout the race, but made a bit of work for myself with that miss on the range. I felt confident on the range, but a miss is costly. There was some really tight results in my field and I have to be pleased I skied somewhat back after that first miss is my second shooting.”

Russia’s Iuliia Budaleeva and Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova both continued their winning streaks during Wednesday’s biathlon races.

Brittany Hudak (Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team) racing to bronze in Wednesday's biathlon 6 k standing sprint at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: Lediard Foto/CCC Facebook)

Brittany Hudak (Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team) racing to bronze in Wednesday’s biathlon 6 k standing sprint at IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: Lediard Foto/CCC Facebook)

Kononova, who won every race at IPC World Championships in January, once again topped the podium in the women’s 6 k standing sprint. Having missed one shot in the first shooting, Kononova put down the winning time of  16:15.3, just 3.4 seconds faster than fellow Ukrainian Liudmyla Liashenko, who cleaned for second. Canada’s Brittany Hudak shot clean and made up 13 seconds on her last lap for her second-straight podium in as many days, finishing 15.4 seconds behind Kononova in third.

After winning Tuesday’s cross-country, long-distance race, Budaleeva and her guide Tatiana Maltseva racked up a 6 k visually impaired biathlon victory with clean shooting in 17:22.2. Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova with guide Lada Nesterenko placed second (17:33.8) and Olga Prylutska and guide Borys Babar finished third (17:35.1).

Budaleeva’s Russian teammates added three more gold medals to their tally.

Having finished second in Tuesday’s visually impaired men’s race, Stanislav Chokhlaev and guide Evgenii Fatkhullin won the closest race of the day on Wednesday in 19:04.1, just 0.5 seconds ahead of Ukraine’s Anatolii Kovalevskyi with guide Oleksandr Mukshyn (19:04.6). While Kovalevskyi presented a clean sheet, Choklaev missed one shot and had to push hard to reach the top of the podium. Nikolay Polukhin and guide Andrey Tokarev (19:16.0) finished in third place.

Aleksandr Davidovich completed Russia’s collection of gold medals of the day, topping the podium in the men’s 7.5 k sitting without missing a single shot and a time of 21:11.8. Germany’s Martin Fleig finished in second (21:45.8), 2.2 seconds ahead of world champion Maksym Yarvoyi of Ukraine in third (21:48.0).

American Andy Soule placed fourth with one penalty in the first shooting, 13.7 seconds off the podium and 49.9 seconds after Davidovich. Soule’s teammate, Dan Cnossen was sixth, another 7.3 seconds back with a single miss as well (1+0).

Fleig’s teammate Anja Wicker won the women’s 6 k sitting race with perfect shooting in 20:18.1. Russia’s Natalia Kocherova finished second (21:04.6) and Belarus’ Lidziya Hrafeyeva took third (21:21.5). Oksana Masters of the U.S. was fifth, 1:18 behind Wicker with three penalties (1+2).

IPC World Cup Finals continue through Sunday with cross-country middle-distance classic as well as pursuit and long-distance biathlon races.

Results: Men | Women

McKeever, Klebl Earn Double Gold for Canada at IPC World Cup Finals; Masters Tops 12 k for U.S.

Brian McKeever (l) and guide Erik Carleton after winning gold in the 20 k visually impaired freestyle on the first day of 2015 IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: CCC)

Brian McKeever (l) and guide Erik Carleton after winning gold in the 20 k visually impaired freestyle on the first day of 2015 IPC World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. (Photo: CCC)

(Combined IPC/CCC/U.S. Paralympics press releases)

The Canadian and Russian stole the spotlight on the first day of the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway, with each nation winning two cross-country, long-distance freestyle races apiece on Tuesday.

In the men’s 20-kilometer visually impaired race, Paralympic and world champions Brian McKeever and guide Erik Carleton topped the podium in 48:38.5, nearly five minutes ahead of of Russia’s Stanislav Chokhlaev and guide Evgenii Fatkhullin in second (+4:42.8). Third place went to Ukraine’s Anatolii Kovalevskyi, guided by Oleksandr Mukshyn (+6:22).

In every IPC event they’ve competed in so far this season, McKeever and Carleton have not lost a race, according to a team press release.

Chris Klebl, a 2014 Paralympic gold medalist in the 10 k sit ski, secured Canada’s second win in the men’s 15 k sitting, a race that proved to be the day’s closest contest. The 43-year-old Klebl finished in 40:24.0, edging out Russian world champion Aleksandr Davidovich by just 1.3 seconds.

“I am definitely a fan of spring racing with the longer, warmer days,” Klebl said in a press release. “The racing this week is during the time frame of the Paralympic Games so it is also good to see that our training plan has me skiing fast now. I have one race left to see how the overall standings for the year shake out and I’m looking forward to it.”

Another Russian, Alexey Bychenok finished 57.8 seconds after Klebl in third. Just 7 seconds off the podium, Dan Cnossen of the U.S. placed fourth and his teammate Andy Soule was seventh, 2:20.6 behind Klebl.

Oksana Masters competes in the 12-kilometer women's sit-ski race at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Final in Surnadal, Norway. Masters captured gold in the event, winning the first medal of the competition for the U.S. team. (Photo: John Farra/U.S. Paralympics)

Oksana Masters competes in the 12-kilometer women’s sitting race at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals in Surnadal, Norway. Masters captured gold in the event, winning the first medal of the competition for the U.S. team. (Photo: John Farra/U.S. Paralympics)

Leading the overall IPC World Cup standings in the women’s sit ski, American Oksana Masters maintained her recent run of good form in Tuesday’s 12 k sitting, winning in 36:44.90 over Norway’s home favourite Mariann Marthinsen, who was second (+52.8), and Russia’s Natalia Kocherova, who was 2:29.7 back in third.

“My goal in today’s race was to focus on my pacing and technique,” Masters said in a U.S. Paralympics press release. “This season, the 12-kilometer races have been a struggle with pacing and keeping technique once I get tired. Today was a team effort success. My skis were flying thanks to [ski technician] Dave [Mark] and my coaches were alongside the course reminding me about pacing and technique. It’s always a team effort and today was a great way to end the last long distance cross-country race of the season.”

Russia’s two wins on Tuesday came through world champions Iuliia Budaleeva and Rushan Minnegulov.

Budaleeva and guide Tatiana Maltseva were victorious in the women’s 15 k visually impaired race in 43:14.9 and shared the podium with Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova and guide Lada Nesterenko in second (43:57.1) and fellow Russians Elena Remizova and guide Maksim Pirogov in third (44:27.5).

Minnegulov won the men’s 20 k standing in 49:28.0, beating Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh in second (50.41.5) and Norway’s Hakon Olsrud, who was third (52:07.8).

The defending world champion in the women’s 15 k standing, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova racked up another win at World Cup Finals in the event in 44:04.7. Canada’s Brittany Hudak took silver, 31.1 seconds back, and Kononova’s teammate Liudmyla Liashenko finished 45.1 seconds back in third.

“It is a mixture of shock and happiness today,” Hudak said in the release. “It was great to beat the Ukraine girl who was third for the first time so I was thrilled with that. I had been feeling tired heading into the race so I was focused on my technique and skiing as efficiently as possible. Once I started the race, it became clear that my skis were really fast so I pushed hard and enjoyed the experience.”

Competition continues through Sunday with the cross-country middle distance classic as well as the short, pursuit and long-distance biathlon races.

Results: Men | Women

Masters Nominated for IPC Athlete of the Month

(Press release)

Six para-athletes have been shortlisted for the Allianz Athlete of the Month poll for February 2015 and the public are now invited to vote for their winner via www.paralympic.org

The nominations for February 2015 are:

Chris Vos, the Netherlands, Snowboard

The 17-year-old did not just celebrate his birthday at the World Championships in La Molina, Spain, he also won two world titles.  He topped the podium in the SB-LL1 class in the snowboard cross head-to-head and banked slalom.

Aled Davies, Great Britain, Athletics

At the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai, UAE, Davies set two new world records in 24 hours.  He first broke his own discus F42 record by 17cm with a throw of 48.87m. In the shot put F42 he threw 15.92m to beat his previous record by 1.21m.

Alexey Bugaev, Russia, Alpine skiing

The 17-year-old heads into March’s World Championships in the form of his life.  In February, he won both slalom races at the World Cup Finals in St. Moritz to maintain his 100 per cent World Cup record in the discipline.  He followed it up with wins in downhill and super combined at the NorAm Cup in Canada.

Gustavo Fernandez, Argentina, Wheelchair tennis

The World No.4 completed a memorable first visit to Rotterdam, Netherlands, when he beat world No. 5 Joachim Gerard 6-0 3-6 6-1 to win the first ITF 1 Series singles title of 2015 at the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

Oksana Masters, USA, Nordic Skiing

In just her second season in winter sports, sit-skier Masters won four out of five races at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup in Asahikawa, Japan, to lead the World Cup rankings.

Perle Bouge, France, Rowing

At the French Indoor Rowing Championships, Bouge posted a new world record of 3:47.5 over the 1,000m distance in the women’s TA event to take 4.7 seconds off her previous best set in 2013.

The public has until 12:00 (CEST) on Monday 9 March to vote for the athlete they want to be the Allianz Athlete of the Month for February 2015 via the www.paralympic.org homepage.

The nominations are compiled from submissions by National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and International Federations (IFs).

The 2015 winners so far are:

January – Andrew Soule, USA, Nordic Skiing