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Biathlon

Ukraine and Russia hot favourites in biathlon

The middle-distance biathlon races across both genders and all classes will take place on Day 4 of Sochi 2014.

Olena Iurkovska Olena Iurkovska is Ukraine's most successful winter Paralympian © • Luc Percival
By Nate Williams | For the IPC

There will be a new Paralympic champion crowned when the women’s 10km visually impaired biathlon starts at 14:30(MSK).

Ukraine can cut into Russia’s lead at the top of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games medals table if their three world champions can become Paralympic champions in the middle-distance biathlon events on Tuesday (11 March).

Ihor Reptyukh, Olena Iurkovska and Iryna Bui will all be hoping to build off their IPC Nordic Skiing World Championship crowns.

Bui, an 18-year-old world champion, will compete in the women’s 10km standing event at 13:00 (MSK) and will face stiff competition from teammate and defending Paralympic champion Oleksandra Kononova.

Bui finished almost one minute ahead of Russia’s Anna Milenina in at the World Championships last year, and both will be in contention for another podium finish. The host nation also has medal hopes in Alena Kaufman who has been in top form during the Sochi 2014 and could be a dark horse to win the race.

"The time preparing for the Paralympic Games was hard for me because I have a small daughter to take care of but I also had to go to training. I haven't seen my family for six months,” Kaufman said.

“These are my third Paralympic Games and it is a great moment for me because it happens on home soil.”

Reptyukh, another young Ukrainian athlete, will be looking to contribute to his country’s gold medal tally in the men’s 12.5km standing biathlon.

The 19-year-old claimed his world title by leading from the front and finishing ahead of compatriot Grygorii Vovchynskyi, a silver medallist in this event from Vancouver 2010.

The Paralympic champion from Vancouver 2010, Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset, will look to improve upon his sixth-place finish in the earlier 7.5km biathlon and challenge for a medal in this event.

Canadian hopeful Mark Arendz will also be in action. The 23-year-old secured a bronze medal in this event at the World Championships.

In the women’s 10km sitting biathlon at 10:00 (MSK), Ukraine’s Iurkovska will try and hold off Russia’s Maria Lovleva, the defending Paralympic champion.

Iurkovska dug deep and pushed hard to the finish line at the 2013 World Championships, as she beat Lovleva to first place by nine seconds.

Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Pavlenko finished seventh at the World Championships, but after an impressive gold-medal performance on Sunday (9 March), she could have an outside chance of medalling in this event, too. Dual-sport athletes Andrea Eskau of Germany and Oksana Masters of the USA will also look to podium.

At 10:48 (MSK), Russia’s Roman Petushkov will aim to complete a hat-trick of gold medals when he arrives at the start line for the men’s 12.5km sitting biathlon. Petushkov is the defending world champion and after his recent performances in Sochi, he is set to upgrade from the bronze medal he won at the previous Games in Vancouver.

He will be closely watched by Japan’s Kozo Kubo, who claimed a bronze medal in the 7.5km biathlon earlier at the Games.

There will be a new Paralympic champion crowned when the women’s 10km visually impaired biathlon starts at 14:30(MSK).

Four years ago, this event was won by Germany’s Verena Bentele, who has now retired from the sport and has recently been inducted into the Visa Paralympic Hall Of Fame. This crown will likely be passed onto Mikhalina Lysova, Russia’s defending world champion who finished two minutes clear of her closest competitor at the World Championships, her teammate Iuliia Budaleeva.

The day’s competition closes with the men’s 12.5km visually impaired biathlon at 14:45 (MSK).

This is likely to be a three-man battle between three different champions. Ukraine’s Torino 2006 Paralympic champion Vitaliy Lukyanenko, Germany’s Vancouver 2010 Paralympic champion Wilhelm Brem and Russia’s reigning world champion Nikolay Polukhin.

Men's downhill standing medallist highlights | Alpine skiing | Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games

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Bronze - Vincent GAUTHIER-MANUEL - France Silver - Alexey BUGAEV - Russia Gold - Markus SALCHER - Austria To see the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games schedule, results, medals table and details of where to watch on TV, please visit http://www.paralympic.org. For details on Paralympic classification, please visit: http://www.paralympic.org/classification

Biathlon moment of day 1 | Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games

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Hometown favourite Lekomtcev wins in front of an adoring crowd of fans in the hard fought men's 7.5 km standing Biatholon. Lekomtcev - Russia- Gold Arendz - Canada - Silver Karachurin - Russia - Gold To see the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games schedule, results, medals table and details of where to watch on TV, please visit http://www.paralympic.org. For details on Paralympic classification, please visit: http://www.paralympic.org/classification

Andrea Eskau

Andrea Eskau

Russia pick up nine biathlon medals on Day 1

Roman Petushkov and Mikhalina Lysova both stormed to gold in their opening events at the Laura Cross-Country and Biathlon Centre.

Roman Petushkov Roman Petushkov of Russia celebrates victory in the men's 7.5km sitting biathlon during Day 1 of Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. © • Getty Images
By Nate Williams | For the IPC

"I dedicate this medal to my mother and my family. I give my thanks to my mother for caring for me when I was in the hospital."

Roman Petushkov kick-started a dominant day for the Russian team on Saturday (8 March), as they collected nine medals in the biathlon competition to open the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Petushkov, Alena Kaufman, Mikhalina Lysova and Vladislav Lekomtcev all won gold as Russia dominated the top of the podium. The rest of the Russian total was made up of four silvers and a bronze medal.

Petushkov claimed his first ever Paralympic gold medal with a flawless performance in the men’s 7.5km sitting event. He did not miss a single shot at the range and crossed the line in 21:03.7, eight seconds ahead of Ukraine’s silver medallist Maksym Yarovyi. Japan’s Kozo Kubo finished in 21:45.6 to collect the bronze medal.

Petushkov lost his legs in a car accident back in 2006 and decided to dedicate his very special win to his mother on International Women’s Day.

"I dedicate this medal to my mother and my family. I give my thanks to my mother for caring for me when I was in the hospital,” Petushkov said.

In the women’s 6km standing event, Kaufman and Anna Milenina provided the host nation with its first one-two finish. Kaufman finished in 18:27.2 with her compatriot Melinina reaching the end of the course 30 seconds later after missing two of her shots on the range.

Ukraine’s two-time Paralympian Iuliia Batenkova added a fifth bronze medal to take her total Paralympic tally to 10 medals.

"Third place is normal for me, but today is just the first day of competition which is for warming up for the bigger races,” Batenkova said.

Russia also claimed a one-two finish in the women’s 6km visually impaired biathlon through world champion Lysova and Iuliia Budaleeva. Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova stopped any chance of a Russian sweep as she beat Elena Remizova for third place.

Lysova was almost two minutes ahead at the 4km stage, allowing her to finish in first place without any pressure. She finished the course with guide Alexey Ivanov in 20:03.2. Budaleeva and her guide Tatiana Maltseva followed in 20:31.7. Shyshkova finished almost 20 seconds (20:49.0) behind.

Another Russian, Nikolay Polukhin, began his quest to better his tally of six medals from the Vancouver 2010 Games by claiming a silver in the men’s 7.5km visually impaired biathlon.

He was beaten by Ukrainian Vitaliy Lukyanenko who crossed the line in a time of 20:18.8. Polukhin and his guide Andrey Tokarev followed 10 seconds later with Vasili Shaptsiaboi from Belarus claiming the bronze.

In the women’s 6km sitting event, Germany’s Andrea Eskau joined a unique list of summer and winter Paralympic gold medallists.

The 42-year-old, who also won two gold medals in handcycling at London 2012, led all the way along the course to finish in an impressive time of 19:12.4 and earn her first Winter Paralympic gold.

Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova followed Eskau in 19:31.1, while Ukraine’s Vancouver 2010 gold medallist Olena Iurkovska finished eight seconds (19:39.6) behind for a bronze medal

“I want to win another gold tomorrow,” Eskau said after the race.

Reigning world champion Mark Arendz from Canada had to settle for silver in the men’s 7.5km standing biathlon, as the 23-year-old watched Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtcev cross the line for gold in 19:13.7.

Nonetheless, Arendz managed to drive himself home in 19:14.4 with Russian Azat Karachurin finishing 0.5 seconds later for bronze.

Roman Petushkov

Roman Petushkov

What to watch: Day 1 at Sochi 2014

The first day of action includes, Jon Santacana Maiztegui, Nikolay Polukhin and Seung-Hwan Jung.

Nikolay Polukhin Nikolay Polukhin has been Russia's top biathlon competitor over the last Paralympic cycle. © • Getty Images
By IPC

The men’s 7.5km visually impaired event will draw the most appeal, as Russia’s Nikolay Polukhin is the two-time defending world champion in the event won six medals in Nordic skiing at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics.

Morning

Start your day off by tuning into the men’s and women’s downhill races across all classes. In particular, fans are eager to see if Spain’s visually impaired skier Jon Santacana Maiztegui can come back from an Achilles tendon injury that has sidelined him for the last six months. He is hoping to win his second consecutive gold in the event, as he goes up against Italy’s Alessandro Daldoss, who just won the 2013-14 IPC Alpine Skiing men’s overall title for the season. France’s Marie Bochet, Great Britain’s Kelly Gallagher and the USA’s Alana Nichols will be top athletes to watch on the women’s side.

Afternoon

Tune into the first day of the biathlon competition, where host nation Russia are hoping to rack up the medals. The men’s 7.5km visually impaired event will draw the most appeal, as Russia’s Nikolay Polukhin is the two-time defending world champion in the event won six medals in Nordic skiing at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics. Men’s sit skier Roman Petushkov and women’s visually impaired skier Mikhalina Lysova will make their first Sochi 2014 appearance for the host nation as well.

Evening

The day finishes with two of the world’s most-improved ice sledge hockey teams taking to the ice at 20:00 (MSK), as host nation Russia faces South Korea. Russia won bronze at the last World Championships after just starting up a team a little more than four years ago, while Korea won the 2013 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification Tournament last weekend. Two top forwards will be on display in this game in Russia’s Dmitry Lisov and South Korea’s Seung-Hwan Jung.

Russia looking for biathlon medals on Day 1

Top Russian skiers Roman Petushkov and Mikhalina Lysova will highlight the first day of the biathlon competition.

Mikhalina Lysova Mikhalina Lysova is expected to be the one to beat in the women's visually impaired cross-country skiing and biathlon events at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. © • Luc Percival
By Nate Williams | For the IPC

The Russians will be hoping to repeat their table-topping success from the Vancouver 2010 Games, as they collected five gold medals in an impressive total of 16 medals.

Russia will look to climb to the top of the medals table early on the first day of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games on Saturday (8 March) as they field top talent in biathlon competition.

The host nation’s biathlon team includes world champions Nikolay Polukhin, Roman Petushkov and Mikhalina Lysova.

The Russians will be hoping to repeat their table-topping success from the Vancouver 2010 Games - they they collected five gold medals and an impressive total of 16 medals in the sport - when the biathlon events will begin at 10:00 (MSK) at the Laura Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing Centre.

The Russian team will be led by visually impaired skier Polukhin, who won the most medals by any athlete on his Paralympic debut at Vancouver 2010. The 32-year-old prevailed with a triumphant haul of six medals including one gold, four silvers and one bronze.

Currently, he is the reigning world champion and ranked as the best athlete in his field, meaning he will hope to add to his remarkable tally on home snow.

However, Ukraine’s Anatolli Kovalevskyi will be tough to beat when they meet in the men’s 7.5km visually impaired race at 13:44 (MSK).

Petushkov, meanwhile, was crowned the 2013-14 IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup winner in men’s sitting class earlier this year, but has yet to claim his first Paralympic gold. After losing both his legs in 2006, four years later he captured a silver medal in cross-country skiing and a bronze medal in biathlon at his Paralympic debut in 2010.

But winning his first Paralympic gold will not be an easy task as he faces tough competition from Japan’s Kozo Kubo and compatriot Grigory Murygin.

Kubo attained five podium finishes to rise to the top of the world rankings in the sitting class while Murygin, at just 18, collected a gold, silver and a bronze at the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships for Russia.

However, if Petushkov and Murygin get their tactics right, they could provide Russia with their first one-two finish in the men’s 7.5km sitting event, starting at around 10:25 (MSK).

In the men’s 7.5km standing event, Canada’s Mark Arendz will be hoping to add a Paralympic gold to the world title he won in 2013.

The 23-year-old will fight for gold against Russia’s Azat Karachurin and 19-year-old Ihor Reptyukh from Ukraine.

In the women’s 6km events, the Russian team also have a chance of their first sweep on the Paralympic podium.

Lysova, Luliia Budaleeva and Elena Remizova are ranked as the top three athletes in the women’s 6km visually impaired world rankings.

Lysova is the most likely to climb on to the top spot of the podium after being crowned the world champion in biathlon and cross-country skiing last year. She also has five Paralympic medals to her name from Vancouver 2010.

The Russian team may look set to run the show but the Ukrainians won’t let their rivals take a majority of the medals without putting up a fight.

Ukraine’s best hopes of getting a gold medal on Day 1 are through two women - Luliia Batenkova and Olena Lurkovska. They are both top in their classes and have competed at the last two Paralympic Winter Games.

At the Vancouver 2010 Games, Lurkovska added two more gold medals to the first gold medal she won at the 2006 Games. She competes in the women’s 6km sitting class, which is the first event of day one at around 10:00 (MSK).

On the other hand, Batenkova has yet to win a gold medal after collecting a combined total of five silver and four bronze medals from the last two Games.

Her event in the women’s 6km standing class will start at 12:00 (MSK).

Sochi 2014 Paralympic Opening Ceremony lights up Russia

Over the next nine days, 547 athletes from 45 countries will compete at the first Paralympic Winter Games ever held in Russia.

Fireworks go off to mark the beginning of the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games Fireworks go off to mark the beginning of the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. © • Getty Images
By IPC

“Together you are the catalysts for change. United as one, you have the ability to change perceptions and alter attitudes like no other. You arrive here as the best prepared athletes ever to attend a Paralympic Winter Games. You will leave as role models, heroes, pioneers and most of all, Proud Paralympians.”

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games began with a stunning Opening Ceremony on Friday evening (7 March) at Fisht Stadium with a volunteer cast of more than 2,500 people from the Krasnodar region of Russia taking centre stage, and two-time Paralympic champion swimmer Olesya Vladykina and six-time Paralympic champion cross-country skier Sergey Shilov lighting the Paralympic cauldron.

With a theme of “Breaking The Ice,” the Opening Ceremony evoked the spirit of Russia and the importance of breaking down barriers and stereotypes faced by people around the world every day.

During his Opening Ceremony speech, IPC President Sir Philip Craven said: “Thirty-four years ago when the old Soviet Union declined the opportunity to stage the 1980 Paralympic Games in Moscow, the prospect of Russia staging its first Paralympic Games was nothing but a dream.

“But dreams do come true, and since winning the Games seven years ago, this part of Russia has undergone a monumental transformation. However, the biggest transformation for this country is still yet to come.

“In the same way that the city of Sochi has built a barrier free environment for athletes and officials to enjoy, I call upon all those who experience these Games to have barrier free minds, too.”

The Opening Ceremony began with 126 performers – dressed in red, white and blue – marching in perfectly synchronised formations to create dazzling patterns on the field of play and create a human wave of the Russian national flag.

The actual flag was then carried into the centre of the stadium by eight people who have been instrumental in improving the lives of people with an impairment in Russia. The Pan-Russian Choir sang a captivating a cappella version of the Russian national anthem.

Andree-Anne Gingras-Roy then played a glass organ that rose from underneath the stadium before 504 young ballerinas grace the stage to create patterns of snowflakes before forming the Paralympic Torch.

Athletes competing paraded through the central ramp of the stadium, with woodland magic creatures and spirit birds guiding them to their seating area.

Over the next nine days, these 547 athletes will compete for 72 sets of medals across five sports in what will be the first ever Paralympic Winter Games held in Russia.

With 55 countries broadcast the Sochi 2014 Paralympics and Paralympic.org live streaming more than 300 hours of HD coverage, the Games are expected to break all viewing records and top athletes will become household names around the world.

Sir Philip addressed the athletes, saying: “You have here superb sporting venues to express your amazing talents and live up to the Paralympic values of determination and courage, inspiration and equality.

“Together you are the catalysts for change. United as one, you have the ability to change perceptions and alter attitudes like no other.

“You arrive here as the best prepared athletes ever to attend a Paralympic Winter Games.

“You will leave as role models, heroes, pioneers and most of all, Proud Paralympians.”

Dmitriy Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, said: “Thanks to the Paralympic Games, a new era in the history of Russia has begun, one without barriers and stereotypes. The Paralympic Games have changed us; they have changed our attitude to those close to us and ourselves. Together, we are learning to be more considerate and attentive to each other.”

After the Paralympic Flag entered the stadium and the Paralympic Agitos was created by 126 performers, the Athletes’ Oath was taken by Russian world champion alpine skier Valeriy Redkozubov, the Officials’ Oath by skiing judge Elena Mokerova and the Coaches’ Oath by Russian alpine skiing head coach Alexander Nazarov.

Pop singer Yulia Samoylova entertained the crowd with their stunning vocals later on in the evening, as 300 ice fisherman painted patterns across the stage. IPC Honorary Board member and opera singer Maria Guleghina sang to the audience on a giant ship as passed through the entire stadium, signifying breaking down barriers and tracing new paths for mankind.

The Ceremony culminated with a cast of more than 1,000 torchbearers celebrating the arrival of the Paralympic Torch in the stadium before it was lit by Vladykina and Shilov, and a spectacular fireworks display erupted across the Olympic Park.

IPC Nordic Worlds open in Solleftea

The 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships are taking place in Solleftea, Sweden, from 25 February to 5 March.

Russia's Roman Petushkov takes lead over teammate Irek Zaripov Russia's Roman Petushkov took gold and his teammate Irek Zaripov won bronze in the cross-country skiing long distance at the 2012-13 IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup in Cable, USA. © • James Netz
By IPC

“I am confident that many athletes will be using these Championships to check where they are at with their own preparations for next year, whilst keeping a close eye on the performances of their competitors."

The 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships were opened in Solleftea, Sweden, on Sunday (24 February) with a colourful ceremony.

From 25 February to 5 March, more than 150 athletes from 15 countries will compete for podium places in cross-country skiing and biathlon events just one year before the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games take place.

Rita van Driel, IPC Governing Board member, said: “In just over one year’s time most of us will be getting ready for the next Paralympic Winter Games.

“I am confident that many athletes will be using these Championships to check where they are at with their own preparations for next year, whilst keeping a close eye on the performances of their competitors.

“Since the 2011 World Championships in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, a number of great rivalries have developed on the nordic skiing circuit and I expect these to take centre stage here this week.

“I’m also delighted at some of the new young talent emerging and believe some of them will surprise us here in Solleftea by coming out of nowhere to win a medal or even a world title.”

One of the rivalries to look out for is between two Russian sit-skiers. Multiple Paralympic and world champion Irek Zaripov will be challenged by his compatriot Roman Petushkov, as he tries to defend his gold medals from the last World Championships.

All events from the Championships will be streamed live on the IPC’s YouTube channel, www.YouTube.com/ParalympicSportTV.

For more information on the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, please visit the event website at www.ipcnordicskiingworlds.org.

You can also follow the action on Twitter @IPCNordic and like the sport’s Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/IPCNordicSkiing.