USA’s Oksana Masters won the first cross-country skiing world cup race of her career in the women’s sprint sitting in Vuokatti, Finland, on Sunday (14 December).
Three-time Paralympic medallist Masters showed a strong performance throughout the day, clocking the fastest qualification time and winning the semi-final. In the final she faced strong competition from Russia’s Marta Zaynullina, who had won the three previous races of the World Cup, and Paralympic champion Mariann Marthinsen of Norway.
But nothing could stop the 25-year-old from taking her first World Cup victory ahead of Zaynullina and Marthinsen, who had to settle for second and third place respectively.
Masters was one of two non-Russian athletes to win on Sunday. The other one was Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova, who claimed her third victory of the World Cup in Vuokatti in the women’s standing event.
After already finishing first in the women’s biathlon sprint standing on Wednesday (10 December) and the cross-country skiing 5km on Saturday (13 December), Kononova stormed to her third win on Sunday beating teammate Liudmyla Liashenko and home favourite Maija Jarvela in the .
Having won the biathlon sprint on Wednesday and the cross-country 5km on Saturday, Russia’s Iulia Budaleeva and her guide Tatiana Maltseva again topped the podium in the women’s sprint visually impaired.
In a close race Budaleeva fought of Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova in second place and Olga Prylutska in third.
The men’s races were an all-Russian affair on the top of the podium.
In the men’s sprint visually impaired, Vladimir Udaltkov recorded his first win of the World Cup ahead of his teammate Stanislaw Chokhlaev. After finishing second in the semi-final, the 27-year-old improved his performance in the final and took the win. France’s Thomas Clarion finished third.
Russia also claimed a double podium in the men’s sprint standing, with Sergey Lapkin taking first place ahead of Vladislav Lekomtcev. France’s Benjamin Daviet came in third.
Ivan Golubkov rounded up the great Russian day with a first place in the men’s sprint sitting. Having recently turned 19, Golubkov beat Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi and teammate Grigory Murygin in the final.
More than 100 athletes from 12 countries are in Vuokatti for the first World Cup event of the 2014-2015 season. Competition will continue on Tuesday (16 December) with the biathlon middle-distance races and all races will give a good indicator of form ahead of the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships which will take place in Cable, USA, between 23 January and 1 February.