Masters strengthens World Cup lead in Vuokatti

With two races to go skiers have been grabbing some of the final points available in cross-country skiing in Finland. 17 Mar 2016
Oksana Masters, USA musters all her strength and rides in to Bronze medal position

“It was really hard, good conditions, fast skiing. I honestly get nervous and I freak myself out!"

The USA’s Oksana Masters strengthened her lead in the IPC Cross-Country Skiing World Cup with a win in the women’s sprint sitting in Vuokatti, Finland, on Thursday (17 March).

World Championships bronze medallist Masters claimed victory despite admitting she was nervous heading into the final dash of the season.

“It was really hard, good conditions, fast skiing,” Masters said. “I honestly get nervous and I freak myself out! It’s the sprint, anything can happen and I don’t like to start a race like that.

“It’s the last sprint of the season and I didn’t want to leave anything behind. I wanted to keep it smooth and technical in the right areas, which there weren’t that many of. I wanted to capitalise on that and I still messed up so I’ve got room to grow.

Masters also said she was excited by the cross-country marathon that will take place on Saturday (19 March).

“I’ve been looking forward to this forever,” she said. “I don’t have any expectations. It’s just going to be a good challenge for myself to see where I am because long distance especially started out as something I did not like, and I was not good at, so we’re going to see how pacing and all that works.

“And it’s a mass start which is going to be really fun!”

Masters now leads Russia’s Maria Iovleva, who finished second in the race, in the World Cup standings. Germany’s Anja Wicker was third.

Ukraine’s world champion Maksym Yarovyi was the victor in the men’s sitting ahead of the Russian pairing Ivan Golubkov and Aleksandr Davidovich.

Russia’s Paralympic gold medallist Mikhalina Lysova moved to within 20 points of rankings leader and teammate Elena Remizova in the women’s visually impaired.

Lysova led the way with guide Alexey Ivanov, followed by Remizova and guide Maksim Pirogov. Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova was third, guided by Vitalii Kazakov.

Russia’s Vladimir Udaltcov moved into second place in the men’s visually impaired standings after winning his race with guide Ruslan Bogachev.

However that was not enough to stop compatriot Stanislav Chokhlaev, guided by Oleg Kolodiichuk, securing the overall win with a second-place finish.

Oleg Ponomarev and guide Andrei Romanov completed an all-Russian top three.

Worlds gold medallist Oleksandra Kononova and Liudmyla Liashenko sealed a one-two for Ukraine in the women’s standing.

However Russia’s Anna Milenina did enough with third to cement the overall World Cup crown with two races to spare.

Milenina’s Paralympic bronze medallist teammate Vladislav Lekomtsev set up an exciting conclusion to the men’s standing World Cup with his win on Thursday.

He is now within 50 points of fellow countryman Rushan Minnegulov with the marathon and middle distance still to come.

Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynski was second, followed by Japan’s Yoshihiro Nitta in third.

Full results and rankings are available online.

Action will resume on Saturday (19 March) with the cross-country marathon ahead of the final race of the season on Sunday (20 March).