US Nordic skier Oksana Masters is used to being on top of the podium, having already won six times at the World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup this season. But on Thursday (January 25) winning was even sweeter as the superstar athlete got to share the podium with her teammate Kendall Gretsch.
Masters and Gretsch took gold and silver in the sitting sprint on the opening night of biathlon competition at the World Cup in Oberried, Germany. It was a night event with lights illuminating the course, adding more drama to the atmosphere.
The sprint race was a challenging one for Masters from the start. She missed a shot on her first lap and dropped down to fifth. Meanwhile Gretsch shot cleanly and was two spots ahead.
Masters made the same mistake in the shooting range on the second lap, but made up for her missed shot with some aggressive skiing that helped her to catch up to Gretsch, who by now was leading the pack after another clean slate in the range.
Some more quick skiing allowed Masters to overtake her teammate and she crossed the finish line 18 seconds ahead. With this result, Masters extended her winning streak to seven consecutive victories after sweeping the cross-country events earlier in the week, while it was a first World Cup podium for Gretsch this season.
Neutral athlete Nadezhda Fedorova came third.
The women’s standing sprint was also one of the most dramatic finals so far this season with neutral athletes Anna Milenina and Ekaterina Rumyantseva both missing a shot in the first lap, and then sprinting to the finish within a second of each other.
In the end Milenina got the slight advantage and claimed the win. It was sweet revenge for Milenina, who was beaten to the gold by Rumyantseva in the same event at the season’s first World Cup in Canmore, Canada.
Norwegian teenager Vilde Nilsen was a close third and took another medal at this World Cup stop to follow up on her bronze in the cross-country sprint.
First medal for Rad
Two youngsters were also in the spotlight in the men’s sitting sprint. Neutral athlete Ivan Golubkov has been in stunning form in Oberried, taking two golds and one silver in the cross-country events.
Golubkov was eager to add to his gold in the biathlon sprint from Canmore. But this time, there was a new challenger on the scene as 18-year-old Ukrainian Taras Rad made his season debut in Oberried.
The pressure was on Golubkov as he missed one shot on both laps with Rad quickly closing the gap. In the end Golubkov held on, but by less than 10 seconds, leaving Rad to claim silver as his first World Cup medal this season.
Neutral athlete Aleksandr Davidovich repeated his result in Canmore with a third place finish.
Rad’s teammate Ihor Reptyukh went one better than the teenager with victory in the men’s standing race. The versatile Nordic skier shot cleanly and earned a nearly 22-second lead over second place finisher Mark Arendz of Canada, who improved on his fourth place from Canmore.
Neutral athlete Vitalii Malyshev was third, which was an impressive leap from his tenth place in this race in Canmore.
Fellow neutral athlete Mikhalina Lysova bounced back from losing her winning streak in the cross-country sprint to win again in the vision impaired biathlon sprint. For this she outraced her teammate Elena Remizova and Germany’s Clara Klug, who also got a bronze in this event in Canada.
Two neutral athletes also took the top two spots in the men’s vision impaired race. Stanislav Chokhlaev repeated his golden race from Canmore. His teammate Nikolai Polukhin was second with Ukraine’s Anatolii Kovalevskyi wrapping up the podium.
The World Cup in Oberried continues on Saturday (27 January) with the biathlon individual race, and runs until 28 January. Complete and live results can be found on the World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.