Day one (20 January) of the World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup in Oberried, Germany, concluded with a dramatic duel between two cross-country heavyweights in the women’s standing.
In end, Ukraine’s 13-time Paralympic medallist Yuliia Batenkova-Bauman who crossed the finish line first to take gold by the slimmest of margins in the middle distance event. The three-time Paralympian ousted neutral athlete Anna Milenina – also a three-time Paralympian who owns 12 Games medals – by 00.9 seconds. It was Batenkova-Bauman’s first World Cup podium of the season, highlighting a successful debut on the circuit for the Ukrainian delegation.
Milenina added onto the three podium finishes she took from December’s World Cup in Canmore, Canada, where she also finished second in the middle distance event.
Only five seconds behind Milenina was Emily Young. The Canadian skier continues to impress this season by building on the three cross-country medals she won on home soil in Canmore, which were also her first individual medals in a major international competition.
Canada did get to celebrate a golden victory from Brian McKeever in the men’s vision impaired. The Paralympic cross-country champion chose to skip the Canmore World Cup, but he proved to still be in top form on Saturday.
Despite trailing neutral athlete Oleg Ponomarev in the 5km mark, McKeever garnered speed in the final kilometers to win by 41 seconds. Nikolai Polukhin, another neutral athlete, concluded the top-three.
Another tight race was featured in the women’s vision impaired. Neutral athlete Mikhalina Lysova beat out Belarus’ Sviatlana Shakhanenka down the home stretch by 1.8 seconds. Neutral athlete Elena Remizova was third.
Meanwhile, Oksana Masters continued her domination in the women’s sitting events. The US skier won five medals in Canmore, but only managed second places in the cross-country races. This time in Oberried – the second World Cup in this season’s circuit – Masters turned silver into gold in the middle distance to claim her third cross-country World Cup medal this season.
Second-place finisher and neutral athlete Mariia Iovleva got on the World Cup podium for the first time this season, while Norway’s Birgit Skarstein upgraded her fourth place in the middle distance from Canmore to bronze in Oberried.
Neutral athletes went one-two in the men’s equivalent; Aleksandr Davidovich finished almost 30 seconds ahead of Ivan Golubkov. Reigning World Championships bronze medallist Andrew Soule gave the USA another medal on Saturday as he took the bronze.
In the men’s standing, Canada’s reigning world champion Mark Ardenz trailed neutral athlete Vladislav Lekomtsev throughout the course and was never able to fully close the gap, as he took silver behind Lekomstev. Finland’s Ilkka Tuomisto completed the podium.
The World Cup in Oberried continues on Sunday (21 January) with cross-country long distance, and runs until 28 January. Complete and live results can be found on World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.