Martin Fleig wins first race of the year

The German secured his first World Cup win in biathlon after two years, in Western Center, Ukraine, on 20 January. 20 Jan 2017
Martin Fleig of Germany competes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games.

Martin Fleig of Germany competes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games.

ⒸLuc Percival Photography

Sochi 2014 Paralympian Martin Fleig won his first biathlon race at an IPC Nordic skiing World Cup after two years, on the last day of competition in Western Center, Ukraine, and is ready to cause an upset at his home World Championships in Finsterau, Germany, next month.

The 27-year-old (40:21.4) claimed first in the men’s sitting, ahead of Belarus’ Dzmitry Loban (40:29.6) and Ukraine’s Taras Rad (41:06.6).

The last time Fleig had won an event was in 2015, when he finished first in the men’s biathlon long distance sitting at a World Cup in Surnadal, Norway.

Another German secured the win in the women’s equivalent as Andrea Eskau added a fifth victory to her haul in Western Center. Teammate Anja Wicker (41:10.0) and Belarus’ Lidziya Hrafeyeva (43:35.2) followed her onto the podium.

As throughout the competition, Ukraine proved again to be the dominant force in the sport by performing a clean sweep in two of the remaining four races.

Four-time Paralympic champion Vitaliy Lukyanenko (38:50.0), guided by Borys Babar, claimed first in the men’s visually impaired, his second win on home soil.

Anatolii Kovalevskyi (39:11.0) and guide Oleksandr Mukshyn finished second, and Dmytro Suiarko (39:57.7), guided by Vasyl Potapenko, third.

Ukraine’s Sochi 2014 champion Oleksandra Kononova (29:36.7) shot clean to win her sixth race in a row on home soil, showing great form ahead of next month’s World Championships.

Teammates Liudmyla Liashenko (31:09.6) and Iuliia Batenkova (33:18.9) ended second and third, respectively.

France’s Benjamin Daviet (35:25.9) swept the biathlon races at the World Cup as he collected a third victory in the men’s standing, putting further distance between himself and the other skiers in the overall rankings.

He was followed by Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh (35:50.1) and Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset (36:31.4).

Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova (33:06.3), guided by Vitalii Kazakov, dropped two shots but was still the fastest in the women’s visually impaired.

Germany’s Clara Klug (36:29.2) and guide Martin Hartl, and Shyskova’s compatriot Olga Prylutska (36:58.0), guided by Borys Babar, completed the podium.

This was the last major event 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.