PyeongChang 2018: Relays to close cross-country competition

Mixed and Open events will be the final medals awarded 18 Mar 2018
a male sit skier ploughs through the snow

Maksym Yarovyi is just one of a strong Ukrainian squad that could tackle the relays

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By Louise Wood | For the IPC

The final competition for Nordic athletes on the last day of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games are the cross-country relays. These are the only team competitions on the programme and are an opportunity for the skiers to work together for their country.

The races on Sunday (18 March) will be the Mixed Relay and the Open Relay. Each team can consist of 2, 3 or 4 athletes but there must be at least one man and one woman in the Mixed Relay. The Open Relay can be an all-male or all-female team or a mixture of both.

Athletes from any of the categories can also compete together. For example you can have a sit-skier, a standing athlete and a vision impaired athlete on the same team.

There a four laps in each relay and if there are four team members they each do one lap each. However some teams will only have two athletes and they will do two laps each. Those with three in a team must choose one member to complete two laps while the other two will do just one.

The reigning world champions in the Mixed Relay are Ukraine who have an amazingly strong squad to choose from. Sweden won the silver in Finsterau in the World Championships but with only Zebastian Modin here competing for them they will not be able to race.

Belarus, who were third in Finsterau, have had a very successful Games already with Yury Holub and Sviatlana Sakhanenka both winning gold medals and Lidziya Hrafeyeva and Dzmitry Loban both making the podium. If their form holds they could win the gold.

The Nordic skiers from USA have also been excellent in PyeongChang, with golds won by Daniel Cnossen, Andrew Soule, Kendall Gretsch and Oksana Masters. They did not field a team at the World Championships so we will have to wait and see who starts for them.

The Open Relay world champions are France who fielded a team of Benjamin Daviet, Anthony Chalencon and Thomas Clarion. With double biathlon gold medallist Daviet possibly racing two legs they have a good chance of taking the Paralympic title too.

They will have to contend with strong opposition from Norway who were second behind them in Finsterau with a team of Nils-Erik Ulset, Hakon Olsrud and Eirik Bye.

Canada who have also done very well this week, took bronze behind Norway. They will have thirteen time gold medallist Brian McKeever in the team alongside Mark Arendz who has five medals already this week.

The Ukraine will also be hoping to medal in this competition after missing out on bronze to Canada at the World Championships when they finished fourth.

Every competition as well as the Closing Ceremony can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action are also available.