With Sunday (4 February) being the last day of biathlon races in this World Para Nordic World Cup season, many athletes grabbed crucial points to secure the coveted biathlon crystal globes.
Ukrainian athletes have dominated the biathlon competition in Vuokatti, Finland. However missing the first World Cup in Canmore, Canada, meant missing an opportunity for the overall titles.
Ukrainian teenager Taras Rad – who finished second overall last season - sensational over the weekend, as he won the men’s sitting competition to add to Saturday’s second-place finish in the sprint. While his split times in the first 6km were slower than that of neutral athlete and runner-up Ivan Golubkov, Rad picked up the pace in the final kilometres and was the only athlete in his category to shoot clean.
The achievement was not enough for Rad to make it into the top-three overall standings though. It was Golubkov who claimed the overall biathlon prize, followed by South Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin. Neutral athlete Aleksandr Davidovich finished third.
The men’s standing saw a new overall winner crowned, as the absence of France’s world champion Benjamin Daviet meant he missed out on winning the globe. Neutral athlete Vladislav Lekomtsev was the man who took his place after winning Sunday’s distance race to claim the overall globe by 32 points. Daviet’s dominance at earlier World Cups meant he still secured second place overall, followed by neutral Aleksandr Pronkov. Despite finishing out of the overall top-three, Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh completed a stellar performance in Vuokatti, adding long distance bronze to his victory from Saturday’s sprint event.
Men’s vision impaired
Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko and guide Ivan Marchyshak ended Vuokatti with a double win in the men’s vision impaired; they beat fellow Ukrainians Anatolii Kovalevskyi and guide Oleksandr Mukshyn in the distance race. Lukyanenko’s outstanding performance saw him claim third in the overall standings, behind neutral athletes Stanislav Chokhlaev and Nikolai Polukhin.
Sunday’s competition proved key in what had been a close fight in the women’s sitting rankings. Neutral athletes Irina Guliaeva, Marta Zainullina and Natalia Kocherova claimed gold, silver and bronze respectively in the final distance race.
Guliaeva’s victory gave her the point she needed to secure the overall biathlon World Cup title, leaving Zainullina second overall. The USA’s Oksana Masters, who is not competing in Vuokatti, was bumped down to third overall.
In the women’s standing it was a clean sweep for Ukraine in Sunday’s race. Reigning world champion Liudmyla Liashenko took the gold, just 15 seconds ahead of compatriots Yuliia Batenkova-Bauman and Iryna Bui, respectively. The win for Liashenko came too late to impact on the overall standing though, with neutral athlete Ekaterina Rumyantseva claiming the crystal globe.
Women’s vision impaired
There was more Sunday success for Ukraine in the women’s vision impaired, with Oksana Shyshkova and guide Vitaliy Kazakov securing a second straight win in Vuokatti. The win saw Shyshkova claim second place in the overall standings behind neutral athlete Mikhanlina Lysova had already claimed the overall crown. Ukrainians Olha Prylutsha and guide Borys Babar; and Natalia Rubanovska guided by Lada Nesterenko finished second and third respectively in Sunday’s race.
The World Cup Finals continue on Tuesday (6 February) with cross-country middle distance races.
Complete and live results can be found on World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.