It was a golden opening day for Ukrainian biathletes as they won three of the six events on the first day of the World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals in Vuokatti, Finland, on Saturday (3 February).
Coming off a victory from the last World Cup in Oberried, Germany, Ihor Reptyukh showed that win was no fluke. The Ukrainian shot clean, again, to win the men’s sprint standing. He beat out neutral athletes Vladislav Lekomtsev and Aleksandr Pronkov, respectively.
Vitaliy Lukyanenko, guided by Ivan Marchyshak, gave Ukraine another gold in the men’s vision impaired. It was Lukyanenko’s first victory of the season, and he had complete dominance throughout the course, also shooting clean. Neutral athlete Nikolai Polukhin broke a one-two Ukrainian finish by coming in second. Anatolli Kovalevskyi and guide Oleksandr Mukshyn were third.
In the women's visually impaired competition, Oksana Shyshkova, with guide Vitaliy Kazakov, led an all-Ukrainian podium.
This was the third successive biathlon World Cup race in which Shyshkova improved on her previous performance. Olha Prylutska and guide Borys Babar and Natalia Rubanovska with guide Lada Nesterenko went two-three, respectively.
South Korea’s Eui Hyun Sin spoiled another Ukrainian gold medal by taking the men’s sprint sitting. He finished ahead of Ukraine’s Taras Rad. Neutral athlete Ivan Golubkov, who has a substantial lead in the World Cup overall biathlon rankings, managed third place.
In the women's standing sprint, neutral athletes Anna Milenina and Ekaterina Rumyantseva, completed a one-two, leaving three Ukrainian athletes in their wake.
Yuliia Batenkova-Bauman reached third place to give Ukraine another podium finish.
The women’s sprint sitting saw an exciting finish. Despite trailing Irina Guliaeva and both having clean shooting, fellow neutral athlete Marta Zainullina overtook her in the home stretch to win the race. It was enough however to move Guliaeva closer to second place in the World Cup biathlon standings, behind the USA’s Oksana Masters who is not competing in Vuokatti. Neutral athlete Nadezhda Fedorova completed the podium.
The World Cup Finals continue Sunday (4 February) with the last biathlon event, before the cross-country races begin.
Complete and live results can be found on World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.