Five best biathlon, cross-country skiing performancesThe 2015-16 season threw up some impressive displays across three World Cups. 21 Apr 2016
As the dust settles on another IPC Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing season we can take a look at some of the best performances from 2015-16.
It featured three World Cup rounds which started in Tyumen, Russia in December before moving to Finsterau, Germany in February and finally on to Vuokatti, Finland in March. With races in both sports there were many chances for the athletes to shine.
Oksana Masters, USA, women’s cross-country sitting
Overall World Cup winner in the women’s cross-country sitting was Oksana Masters. The US Paralympic medallist athlete got her season off to a terrific start back in December in Tyumen. Up against a field containing six Russian athletes at their home World Cup race in Tyumen, Masters was able to defeat them all. She won the long distance race by seven seconds and beat some excellent competitors like Maria Iovleva and Irina Guliaeva. It was only the second race of the season an important victory which helped her towards her second consecutive overall World Cup victory.
Vladislav Lekomtsev, Russia, men’s biathlon standing
The men’s biathlon standing competition is full of great athletes. The World Cup title is difficult to win but Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtsev managed to do it this season. He started off by winning one of the closest races at home in Tyumen. He came first in the biathlon sprint race, only 1.8 seconds from Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset and 8.4 seconds from French title rival Benjamin Daviet who was third. World champion Lekomtsev missed a target and the others shot clean which makes his victory all the more impressive.
Oksana Shyshkova, Ukraine, women’s biathlon visually impaired
Ukraine’s world and Paralympic medallist Oksana Shyshkova had an almost perfect season on the women’s visually impaired biathlon World Cup circuit. She won every race in the two out of three World Cups but she lost out on winning the title by missing the first round in Tyumen. It is very difficult to beat now Russia’s three time World Cup winner in this event Mikhalina Lysova, but she did it five times in five consecutive races. The most memorable of her wins came in Vuokatti in the sprint. With both Shyshkova and Lysova shooting perfectly it came down to skiing and Shyshkova and her guide Vitalii Kazakov won a close race by just two seconds.
Brian McKeever, Canada, men’s cross-country visually impaired
Canada’s multiple Paralympic champion Brian McKeever is one of the biggest stars in men’s cross country visually impaired racing and it is easy to see why. After missing the first two World Cups of the season he arrived in Vuokatti for the final round to take part in the 30km marathon race. He won the race, with guide Graham Nishikawa, by a stunning four minutes and 29 seconds from his closest competitor on the day Russia’s Alexander Artemov. As if that was not enough he also won the middle distance race the very next day.
Liudmyla Liashenko, Ukraine, women’s biathlon standing
The women’s standing competition in biathlon is very tough. It was dominated last season and in the final two World Cups by Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova. Therefore anyone who beats her has put in an extraordinary performance. That is exactly what happened in the second round of the World Cup in Finsterau. World Championships medallist Liudmyla Liashenko finally got a long awaited victory over her teammate and rival in the individual race. She was the only athlete, from the 12 who took part, to hit all twenty targets on the shooting range to win by a margin of 28.7 seconds. This will give her a lot of confidence for next season.
Ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, athletes will compete at the 2017 IPC Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing World Championships.