Six Para biathlon World Cup champions were crowned on Thursday as the season concluded with middle distance and sprint races in Sapporo, Japan. Check out four of the key takeaways from the 2018-19 World Cup season.
1. Klug celebrates best season
Germany’s double PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist will forever remember this as her breakthrough World Cup season.
Clara Klug, guided by Martin Hartl, claimed her first biathlon title after winning the women’s sprint vision impaired and taking silver in the middle distance in Sapporo.
Before that, she also won two golds and one silver at the first World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland, and two golds more in Ostersund, Sweden.
Apart from her World Cup performances, Klug swept all three biathlon races at the World Championships in Prince George, Canada.
2. Masters misses gold
Despite being more a cross-country skiing-specialist than a biathlete, it is hard to picture Oksana Masters in another step of the podium that it is not the first.
The US Nordic skier had already proven competitive in biathlon, winning two golds at the 2019 World Championships and two silvers at the 2018 Winter Paralympics.
But her compatriot Kendall Gretsch was in unstoppable form throughout the World Cup season, taking six golds out of seven and one silver to finish atop the overall rankings with an unassailable 940 points.
Masters, who underwent two surgeries on her elbow before the season, ended second with 760.
3. Daviet flies
After an inconsistent start to the season, Benjamin Daviet showed why he is nicknamed ‘The flying Frenchman’ by winning seven consecutive biathlon races.
At the season-opening World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland, Daviet secured one gold and one bronze. But the best was yet to come.
He followed that up with two golds in Ostersund and three world titles at Prince George 2019. Hungry for further success, he went on to win the men’s sprint and middle distance standing races in Sapporo to claim the overall title with 910 points.
Daviet’s opponents ended far behind him, with Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset being the closest with 695 points.
4. Kononova is back
Oleksandra Kononova missed the 2018 Winter Paralympics due to health-related issues and it remained an open question whether she could ever return to her previous form.
She quickly removed any doubts by winning all three biathlon events at the Vuokatti World Cup in December 2018.
The four-time Paralympic gold medallist also won the remaining four World Cup biathlon races in Ostersund and Sapporo to end first in the overall rankings with a big margin; she secured 920 points, 225 more than compatriot and runner-up Liudmyla Liashenko.