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.
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.
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.
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 ).
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.
— Gabby Naranja