The men´s and women´s overall cross-country champions of the 2017-18 World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup were decided across all categories in the final race in Vuokatti, Finland, on 9 February.
Zebastian Modin, guided by Johannes Anderson, finished in the same spot as in the earlier sprint race – on top. Sweden´s cross-country specialist claimed his second gold on the Vuokatti course in the men´s long-distance, leading the pack through all the laps.
The two victories, the sprint and long distance, gave Modin the points he needed to get ahead in the World Cup standings, winning the cross-country overall title for the second year in a row to secure the coveted crystal globe.
It was another good race for Norway’s Eirik Bye and guide Arvid Nelson, upgrading their bronze from the sprint to a silver in the long distance. For bronze medallist Iaroslav Reshetynskyi of Ukraine, guided by Nazar Stefurak, it was the first World Cup medal of the season.
On the women’s side, Austria’s teenage star Carina Edlinger, guided by her brother Julian, won her second gold of the season in Vuokatti with a dominant race in the long distance. Her only rival in the race was Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova, guided by Sergiy Kucheryaviy, who trailed the Austrian by almost a minute.
Edlinger previously won the sprint race and got a silver in the middle distance, which together with her consistent performance at the previous two World Cup stops gave her the lead in the overall World Cup rankings this season and successfully defended the title.
Neutral athletes Rushan Minnegulov and Aleksandr Pronkov grabbed the top two spots in the men’s race, coming to the finish one minute apart. Minnegulov secured top place in the overall World Cup rankings thanks to the win while Pronkov was the overall third. Also neutral athlete Vladislav Lekomtsev finished as overall second.
For third place finisher Witold Skupien it was the first medal of this season’s World Cup. Waiting until the final race of the season, the 28-year-old from Poland finally made his breakthrough in the long distance, finishing just over a minute after race leader Minnegulov.
In the women’s race, Anna Milenina took revenge on also neutral athlete Ekaterina Rumyantseva who beat her in both earlier cross-country races in Vuokatti. After a silver and a bronze in those races, Milenina finally got the gold in the long distance event and broke Rumyantseva’s golden streak.
However, it was not enough for Milenina to dislodge Rumyantseva from first place in the World Cup standings. The two athletes were head-to-head for most of the season, but Rumyantseva ultimately emerged as the overall winner.
Ukraine’s Yuliia Batenkova-Bauman was third in the long distance and finished the Vuokatti cross-country events with two bronze medals.
Neutral athlete Marta Zainullina won the women´s long distance sitting coming in 23.8 seconds ahead of neutral athlete Irina Guliaeva, who made a powerful surge at the half mark point and rose up from fourth place to second. Another neutral athlete, Nadezhda Fedorova, finished third.
Norway´s Birgit Skarstein, who finished just off the podium in the final long distance event, still had something to celebrate on the last day in Vuokatti as her combined points were enough to edge her to first place in the overall standings, just 14 points ahead of Zainullina.
For the men, Ivan Golubkov completed his sweep of cross-country events in Vuokatti with a third straight gold in the long-distance race. The neutral athlete led from the start and crossed the finish line in dominant fashion – more than one minute ahead of also neutral athlete Aleksander Davidovich and more than two minutes before Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi.
Golubkov was the undeniable leader in the World Cup standings with a 315-point lead over Davidovich, who finished the season as the runner-up.
Complete results are available on World Para Nordic Skiing´s website.