From 4 - 7 March, Nordic skiers from around the world are gathering at Whistler Paralympic Park in the Callaghan Valley to compete in the IPC Biathlon & Cross-Country Skiing World Cup and test the slopes for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games for the first time.
The competition opened with the Biathlon Pursuit yesterday, where athletes in each category (Sitting, Standing, Visually Impaired) are competing in a morning qualifier where they sprint around the 800m/1km loop three times and enter the shooting range between after the first two laps, firing five sets of shots both in the prone position. In the afternoon, the finals were held to find the winner.
In the Men’s Sitting competition, Russian athletes Vladimir Kiselev and Irek Zaripov took the first and second positions respectively. French athlete Georges Bettega followed in third. The Men’s Visually Impaired competition had similar results, but with two pairs of athletes from Russia, Irek Mannanov and Rostislav Pavlov(guide), and Evgenly Sarronov and Salavat Gumerov (guide) in the first and second positions. The third position went to Thomas Clarion and Tommy Terraz (guide) from France. The Men’s Standing competition saw Nils Erik Ulset from Norway in the top position with only 0.8 seconds ahead. Grygorii Vovchynskiyi (UKR) and Konstantin Yamchuk (RUS) came in second and third respectively.
In the Women’s Sitting race, Olena Iurkovska from Ukraine finished first. Her team mate Lydmyla Pavlenko and Irina Polyakova (RUS) followed in second and third positions. The Women’s Standing race saw Oleksandra Kononova (UKR) leading the way. Anna Burmistrova (RUS) and Iuliia Batenkova (UKR) took the next two positions. In the Women’s Visually Impaired race, Russia’s athletes dominated the podium. Polina Kameneva and Viacheslav Goldinov (guide) came in first, followed by Tatiana Ilyuchenko and Valeriy Koshkin (guide) in second place and pair Mikhalina Lysova and Salavat Gumerov (guide) in third place.
The IPC Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing World Cup continues on Thursday with the Cross-Country Skiing Middle Distance races.