Multiple Paralympic gold medallist Vitaliy Lukyanenko won his first race since the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games on Thursday (19 January), claiming first in the men’s biathlon sprint visually impaired on home snow at the World Cup in Western Center, Ukraine.
Lukyanenko (22:29.8) showed he is back in top form with guide Borys Babar, and will be one to look out for at next month’s World Championships in Finsterau, Germany.
Ukraine’s Iurii Utkin (22:46.1) and guide Ruslan Perekhoda, and teammate Iaroslav Reshetynskiy (23:01.1), guided by Artur Gergardt, completed the podium.
The hosts proved again to be a dominant force in Nordic skiing, as they won three of the remaining five biathlon sprint races of the day.
Their women’s standing skiers performed a clean sweep, with multi-Paralympic champion Oleksandra Kononova (18:29.5) adding a fifth win to her haul in Western Center despite dropping two shots.
Liudmyla Liashenko (19:10.7) and Iryna Bui (20:27.4) finished second and third, respectively.
In the men’s equivalent, France’s Benjamin Daviet (21:01.1) emerged as the winner again, as he did in the long distance event on Tuesday (17 January). The victory means he has now overtaken Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset as the overall rankings leader.
Ulset (21:49.4) ended second and Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh (21:53.6) third.
Belarus’ Lidziya Hrafeyeva (24:06.3) shot clean in the women’s sitting to win her first race of the season. German skiers Anja Wicker (25:30.1) and Andrea Eskau (26:39.8) were second and third, respectively.
Taras Rad (23:40.8) gave the hosts another reason to celebrate as he shot clean to win the men’s sitting. This was Rad’s second victory of the season, after he claimed first in the men’s long distance sitting at the World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland, in December 2016.
Belarus’ Dzmitry Loban (24:40.2) and Rad’s teammate Maksym Yarovyi (25:08.8) finished second and third, respectively.
Ukraine’s Olga Prylutska (19:51.9), also guided by Borys Babar, was the fastest in the women’s visually impaired, securing her first win of the year.
Germany’s Clara Klug (21:12.9) and guide Martin Hartl, and Prylutska’s compatriot Oksana Shyshkova (21:33.6), guided by Vitalii Kazakov, followed her onto the podium.
The World Cup will end on 20 January with the biathlon middle distance events.
It is the last major competition before the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships, which will be held in Finsterau, Germany, from 10-19 February, and will feature around 135 athletes from 25 countries.
Live results and a live stream are available on World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.