Ihor Reptyukh will be one of the main medal contenders when the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup season kicks off on 9 December.
With plenty of experience under his belt and a thoughtful analysis of his past shortcomings, Reptyukh will be both a physical and mental force on the slopes as he goes for the overall World Cup win and looks ahead to claiming his first individual medals at the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang in March 2018.
“The World Cup gives an opportunity to get extensive competition experience, to bring yourself into good physical shape, soberly evaluate the level of your athletic preparation and that of your opponents. I feel quite confident on all the distances and disciplines,” Reptyukh said ahead of the first World Cup stop in Canmore, Canada.
There the 23-year-old athlete from Chernihiv, Ukraine will compete in the standing cross country and biathlon races.
Reptyukh has already earned many podium spots since taking up the sport in 2010. He swept the cross-country events at the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships where he won two gold medals in the sprint and long-distance races, before adding a silver in the middle distance.
Although his results in biathlon dropped in the past two years, Reptyukh could still prove a strong contender in this discipline. He has won multiple medals in various distances, including gold in the long distance race at the 2015 World Championships. His most recent achievement in biathlon is a silver medal in the short distance at the 2017 World Championships.
For Reptyukh, this season will also be a chance to overturn the mistakes that he made at his first Paralympic Games, in Sochi 2014, where he won silver in the 4x2.5km open cross-country relay.
“I made a lot of mistakes in Sochi in 2014 and this gave me the opportunity to see my weak sides and the depth of my abilities. Thanks to this I have the opportunity to become stronger already in Korea in 2018,” Reptyukh said.
Despite the extra expectations on him to do well this season, Reptyukh is keeping to his usual training regime for the World Cup and the Paralympic Games.
“Overall the preparation for the Paralympics is going in the usual way for me,” he said. “The most important thing is that the government has the opportunity to provide us with material aid and a training base.”
As per his rivals, Reptyukh feels that all athletes will be strong medal contenders once the 2018 Paralympic Games start, and is looking forward to a heated battle on the mountain slopes.
“I think that the level of preparation for the Paralympic Games, which take place once in four years, will be high among all athletes,” he said. “Among all without exception.”