Eskau and Daviet claim double cross country gold in Canmore

Europeans continue to dominate opening World Cup of the season 11 Dec 2017
a male Para skier smiles at the camera while holding his skis

Daviet has plenty to celebrate after picking up two golds in the first two days of the Canmore World Cup

ⒸPam Doyle
By Lena Smirnova | For the IPC

Andrea Eskau made it two golds in two days at the Canmore World Cup after adding the middle distance title to her sprint victory from day one.

The German savoured the result on day two (10 December) after finishing ahead of USA’s Oksana Masters for the second day running.

Eskau felt she had something to prove in the middle distance race, after only winning the sprint due to Masters’ disqualification.

“I’m really excited,” Eskau said after winning gold the middle distance event. “Yesterday I won by luck. Today was strength. It’s more important to win today than yesterday.”

Masters finished just five seconds behind Eskau, and took the result in stride.

“I feel like I’m in a pretty good place, considering this is only the second race of the season,” Masters said.

“My goal for today was to start well over my time. I nailed that by a few seconds. Got that down,” she added with a laugh, referring to her false start in the sprint. “Raced my own race. I know I’m not there yet with my fitness. I feel very happy with where I’m at.”

Masters is one of the heavy favourites in the sit ski races heading into the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, and she remains focused on competing in PyeongChang while she measures herself against potential opponents in Canmore.

“I look at the Paralympics as the main war,” Masters said. “These are the tiny battles. That is my war. I’m trying to go far.”

Eskau was one of five athletes who won back-to-back gold medals in the sprint and middle distance races. France’s Benjamin Daviet won the men’s standing race almost 28 seconds ahead of second place finisher Rushan Minnegulov. But Daviet is not getting too carried away with his impressive form so far.

“Will I celebrate? Not yet. The season is long,” he explained.

“For a start, this is perfect. I am in good shape. I feel the altitude in Canmore, but we have to manage our strength.”

Three neutral athletes also collected their second gold medals in Canmore. Ivan Golubkov topped the podium in the men’s sit ski. Mikhalina Lysova triumphed again in the visually impaired event, outracing her teammate Elena Remizova by just an eighth of a second. And Ekaterina Rumyantseva wrapped up the competition day by winning gold in the women’s standing race in an exact repeat of the sprint podium with teammate Anna Milenina and Canada’s Emily Young finishing second and third, respectively.

Podium places for newcomers

Zhang Peng was the surprise of the day in Canmore when he took bronze in the men’s sit ski. The newcomer from China beat out veteran riders Martin Fleig and Daniel Cnossen to take his first medal at a major competition, and he will have another chance at a medal in the upcoming long distance event.

Young talent Carina Edlinger continued to add medals to her tally. The 19-year-old Austrian skier collected two bronze medals thus far, in the women’s visually impaired sprint and middle distance events, and is set to compete in her signature long distance race on 12 December.

One of the favourites Zebastian Modin will also be aiming for a strong performance in the upcoming long distance race for visually impaired athletes. The Swedish skier got one step closer to his goal of standing on top of the podium by improving on his bronze medal in the sprint with a silver in the middle distance, losing out only to neutral athlete Stanislav Chokhlaev.

“It's a good start to the season,” said Modin. “I started slow and relaxed. I think I did that. I rose in the ranks through the whole race and had a good finish.”

But it was another challenging day for local start Mark Arendz. The Canadian finished just off the podium in the men’s standing race, adding little consolation to his earlier eighth place finish in the sprint.

The Canmore World Cup continues with the final day of cross country racing on 12 December. The biathlon events will then begin on 14 December. Live results can be found on World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.