In the men’s sitting, Japan’s long distance world champion Kozo Kubo faces a fight to the last with middle distance world champion Russian Roman Petushkov.
Winners of the 2013-14 IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup biathlon will be decided from Thursday (23 January), with around 100 athletes from over 15 countries competing over all distances, beginning with a night race.
With just over 40 days to go until Sochi 2014 and the winners of the cross country World Cup decided last weekend (16-19 January) in Oberstdorf, skiers have travelled across Germany for short, middle and long distance races in the picturesque Black Forest.
Hoping to secure his biathlon win and avenge his cross-country World Cup loss to teammate Stanislav Chokhlaev is Russia’s Nikolay Polukhin. The three-time world champion currently sits clear at the top of the visually impaired rankings with 500 points with Chokhlaev second (262 points) and compatriot Aleksei Toropov third (216 points).
Sticking with the Russian team in the women’s visually impaired, a much closer finish looms between short, middle and long distance world champion Mikhalina Lysova, Elena Remizova and Iuliia Budaleeva. The trio have been exchanging places on the World Cup podium all season, much like the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Solleftea, Sweden, almost one year ago. It is Budaleeva with 420 points who leads Lysova (380 points) and Remizova (330 points) heading into the finals.
In the men’s sitting, Japan’s long distance world champion Kozo Kubo faces a fight to the last with middle distance world champion Russian Roman Petushkov. Petushkov (350 points) was the most successful male athlete at Solleftea 2013 with five gold medals, and leads Kubo by just 14 points with short distance world champion Grigory Murygin in third (286 points).
Kubo’s teammate Momoko Dekijima, currently placed third in the women’s standing rankings (261 points), could overtake Russian cross-country World Cup victor Alena Kaufman (385 points) and teammate Natalia Bratiuk (332 points). Kaufman, who achieved podiums in all three biathlon events she has entered this season, is only 53 points clear of Bratiuk.
The women’s sitting has seen a bad Sochi build-up for double world champion Ukrainian Olena Iurkovska, leaving the way clear for Solletea middle distance bronze medalist Svetlana Konovalova. The 23-year-old holds a lead of only five points (375 points) ahead of Russian teammates Marta Zaynullina (370 points) and Nadezda Andreeva, who has 288 points.
Prolific wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden and rower teammate Oksana Masters have both made the switch from their success in summer sports to compete in Nordic events, bidding to get on the US team for Sochi.
Russia’s 2010-11 double world championship podium skier Azat Karachurin carries the lead in the men’s standing (405 points), whilst Norway’s triple Paralympic gold medalist Nils-Erik Ulset (289 points) is currently sitting ahead of short distance biathlon world champion Mark Arendz of Canada (280 points).
Competitions at Oberried run until 26 January and are followed by a series of smaller biathlon competitions in Le Feclaz, France, and a return to Kirchzarten, Germany.
Skiers then head to the Laura Cross-Country and Biathlon Centre for Sochi 2014 where a total of 18 biathlon medal events, equally split across men and women and classifications, will be contested.
Pictures of training and competitions at Oberried are available at the IPC's Flickr account.