Strong-willed heroes dazzle on dramatic day of sprints in Oberried

Canadian, Belarusian and Ukrainian skiers win on final day of cross-country competition 23 Jan 2018
a male Para Nordic skier

Brian McKeever stormed to gold on the final day of cross-country races at the Oberried World Cup

By Lena Smirnova | For the IPC

Canada’s Brian McKeever completed his cross-country races with a golden flourish at the second stage of the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup.

The 10-time Paralympic champion in cross-country skiing won his second gold in Oberried, Germany in the vision impaired sprint to follow up on his gold in the middle distance and silver in the long distance.

But despite his stellar credentials, McKeever’s victory in the sprint was far from easy.

He posted only the sixth best time in qualification where he was more than 13 seconds behind the leader Oleg Ponamarev.

But in the final, when it really mattered, McKeever was on fire, blazing through the course and crossing the finish line first.

Neutral athlete Vladimir Udaltsov was second while Sweden’s Zebastian Modin rounded off the podium in third. It was the first medal in Oberried for Modin, who is the cross-country World Cup winner from last season.

The men’s standing race also featured a winner who had to battle against the odds.

Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi was not among the favourites to get a podium spot in the event. He only managed 10th place in the earlier middle distance race and, like McKeever, flew under the radar in the sprint qualification and semi-final.

However, in the final, Vovchynskyi displayed a remarkable will to win, and while he was initially awarded second place, he was later upgraded to top position after race leader Vladislav Lekomtsev was disqualified.

Finland’s Ilkka Tuomisto got his first silver, with Vovchynskyi’s Ukrainian teammate Ihor Reptyukh finishing third.

Another unlikely victory of the day belonged to Belarus’ Sviatlana Sakhanenka who managed to break neutral athlete Mikhalina Lysova’s streak of five straight victories at the World Cup in the women’s vision impaired class.

Sakhanenka got a better time than her rival in the qualifications and while the two athletes raced in separate semi-finals, it was Sakhanenka who came out on top again in the final to claim her first World Cup victory this season.

Young Austrian talent Carina Edlinger finished third to take her second cross-country medal in Oberried.

Ukraine’s success continued in the women’s standing, collecting another gold medal thanks to Liudmyla Liashenko.

Liashenko dominated from the start of the competition. She won all her preliminary races and beat out neutral athlete Ekaterina Rumyantseva and Norway’s Vilde Nilsen in the final to win her first World Cup race of the season.

In the women’s sitting, Oksana Masters completed her perfect sweep of the cross-country events with gold in the sprint. Neutral athlete Mariia Iovleva took silver, while it was a third consecutive bronze for Norway’s Birgit Skarstein.

In the men’s sitting, neutral athlete Ivan Golubkov made it back to back wins with victory in the sprint. He was followed by the USA’s Andrew Soule, who added silver to his bronze in the middle distance event. Collin Cameron of Canada rounded off the podium with his first medal of the season.

The Canmore World Cup continues with three days of biathlon competition kicking off on Thursday (25 January). Live and complete results can be found on World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.