PyeongChang 2018: Anna Milenina goes for eighth Paralympic title
Final cross-country races of Winter Paralympics to be contested at Alpensia17 Mar 2018
Anna Milenina is going for her eighth Paralympic title
Saturday (17 March) sees the final individual cross-country races at Alpensia before the relays on Sunday.
Anna Milenina has won a medal in all five races she has started in across both disciplines. She won gold and two silvers in biathlon and in cross country she won the sprint race and was second in the long distance.
Those two gold medals have taken her overall number of Paralympic titles from Turin, Vancouver, Sochi and now PyeongChang to seven.
In fact she has so many medals that she has somewhere special to keep them.
“All of them are kept in a museum of the city Krasnoturyinsk, she explained. “People come and look at them. I give them to the museum and they show them to people. People are interested to look.”
It will not be easy for the Neutral Paralympic Athlete to win the 7.5km though as after five races in a week fatigue is setting in.
She will also have her familiar rival to contend with in the form of Ekaterina Rumyantseva. The two Neutral Paralympic athletes have traded blows all week long and this will be their final head to head race.
The men’s standing will most likely be contested between Benjamin Daviet and Ihor Reptyukh. The Ukrainian Reptyukh took the spoils in the cross country long race but Frenchman Daviet has defeated him in all the biathlon races. Finland’s Ilkka Tuomisto will be trying to win another medal after his bronze in the cross country sprint in what will be his final ever individual race at a Paralympics before he goes back to farming.
“These are my last Games so soon I can forget my training and sports and go and take care of my cows,” said Tuomisto.
The vision impaired 10km race for the men could provide a thirteenth gold medal for Canada’s Brian McKeever. He has dominated both cross country races so far here in PyeongChang and is likely to make it three victories in a row. He also prefers the longer distances races to the sprints.
“I like a longer race where I can relax into it and feel out the pace,” he explained.
The women’s 7.5km race should be a tighter affair with Sviatlana Sakhanenka of Belarus also attempting to win all three cross country races in a week. She has tough opposition with Neutral Paralympic athlete Mikhalina Lysova and Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova aiming to stop her.
The men’s 7.5km sitting race could be contested by two Americans with Daniel Cnossen and Andy Soule both trying to add more medals to the US total. However the difficult schedule is starting to take its toll on the skiers.
“I'm getting a bit tired,” said Cnossen. “I also have a little bit of regret from the sprint race and I want to make sure that I have a solid performance and not lose the mental battle to stay on top of my own performance.”
Maksym Yarovyi of Ukraine is the current World Champion and gold medallist from the cross country long race. He will be hoping to make up for a disappointing sprint race by winning this one.
The women’s 5km race will once again see Germany’s Andrea Eskau take on America’s Oksana Masters. Masters is the World Champion and Eskau the reigning Paralympic champion. Both women have been exceptional here in PyeongChang but do not discount the gold medallist from the long distance, another American Kendall Gretsch.