Kendall Gretsch grabs gold in Finland

Paralympic champions shine in first biathlon races 17 Dec 2018
female Para Nordic sit skier Kendall Gretsch pushing through the snow

Paralympic champion Kendall Gretsch won the opening women's biathlon race of the Vuokatti World Cup

ⒸKimmo Rauatmaa
By Louise Wood | For World Para Nordic Skiing

Kendall Gretsch started the biathlon season the same way she did at the Paralympic Winter Games in March - with a win. The US Nordic skier dominated the women's 10km sitting middle race at the Vuokatti World Cup despite missing two shots on the range.

"I am excited to have the first race done and out of the way," said Gretsch. "I was really pleased with the skiing and pretty good shooting so I am excited for the rest of the season."

Andrea Eskau of Germany was second after also missing two shots while her teammate Anja Wicker hit twenty out of twenty to finish third.

In the men's sitting race Paralympic champion Eui Hyun Shin of South Korea won a dramatic race beating Germany's Martin Fleig by just 0.3 of a second. Clean shooting was the key to his victory after Fleig and third placed American Daniel Cnossen both missed a target.

"I missed some shots in biathlon at the PyeongChang Paralympic Games and I have tried my best to improve my shooting," explained Shin. "Today I hit every target and I am really satisfied with that."

Oksana Shyshkova repeated her gold medal in the vision impaired 10km from PyeongChang with guide Vitaliy Kazakov. Even missing two shots she still won the race by over two and a half minutes from Germany's Clara Klug and guide Martin Hartl in second. Fellow German Johanna Recktenwald and her guide Simon Schmidt completed the podium.

The men's vision impaired race saw Vasili Shaptsiaboi of Belarus and guide Dzmitry Budzilovich finish ahead of the Ukrainian duo Iaroslav Reshetynskyi and Oleksander Kazik guided by K Yaremenko and Serghiy Kucheryaviy respectively.

Nils-Erik Ulset won the men's standing event, taking Norway's gold medal count to five after three days of competition. He missed one target but was still able to finish ahead of the clean shooting Canadian Mark Arendz and the Paralympic champion in this event, France's Benjamin Daviet.

"It was a good race," said Ulset. "I felt from the start I was in good shape and I had amazing skis. I was a little nervous about the shooting but after the first one I got a little more confident. Today was a really good day so even one miss was OK."

He also revealed the secret to his good performance. He has had some very special training partners over the summer. "I have been training a lot with the Norwegian IBU (able-bodied) team and it has been helping me a lot."

The gold medal in the women's standing went to Ukrainian Oleksandra Kononova who beat teammate Bohdana Konashuk by over a minute. Third place went to Polish biathlete Iweta Faron.