Paralympic sport is becoming bigger and better every year in Ukraine. Having finished fourth in the medal table at Sochi 2014 and third at Rio 2016, the country will have high hopes for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
But especially for the Nordic skiers, the highlight will be hosting their first-ever World Cup at Western Center from Friday (13 January).
Ihor Reptyukh will be one of many promising Ukrainians competing. He has won nine World Championships medals from the last two editions, including gold in the Individual biathlon, plus Paralympic and World Cup medals in the past few seasons.
After securing two World Cup wins already in 2016-17, he is confident that the course will provide a good test for those competing.
“I think everything will be on a high level and everybody will enjoy the most difficult route in Europe,” he said.
Reptyukh believes the home advantage could make a big difference to his own performance.
“I believe that performing in my native country will help me to show good results. We will take to the routes like a duck to water. We have studied all of the difficult areas and know what to expect.”
Reptyukh believes the World Cup will be vital in his preparation for the World Championships in Finsterau, Germany, as he looks to defend his biathlon title.
He continued, “I will gain competition experience which always helps. And we will all want to show our best before the World Championships as we will be in front of our own supporters.”
And looking ahead to PyeongChang 2018, he was in no doubt about what he wants to achieve.
“I have only one aim – the gold medal. Nothing else will do,”
The Finsterau 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships will gather 135 of the world’s best biathletes and cross-country skiers from 25 countries in Finsterau between 10-19 February. They will be followed by the PyeongChang 2018 Test Event from 10-15 March.
Live results from Western Center will be available throughout the competition, which runs until 20 January.