Ukraine’s golden skiers anxious to repeat World Cup success

Past experience will be key for multi-medallists in Paralympic season 08 Dec 2017
a male and female Para Nordic skiers competing

Shyshkova (L) and Yarovyi hope previous experience will help them triumph in Canmore

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By Lena Smirnova | For the IPC

Oksana Shyshkova and Maksym Yarovyi definitely made an impression at the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships.

The Ukrainian skiers left the competition with an astounding seven gold medals between them. Yarovyi swept the cross-country sitting events, adding another gold in the biathlon 7.5km sprint sitting event, while his teammate Shyshkova triumphed in the biathlon visually impaired sprint and long distance races and the cross-country 5km Freestyle event.

Shyshkova’s last season proved to be her most successful to date. In addition to three gold and three silver medals at the World Championships, she also won the Biathlon World Cup in the visually impaired class.

“Last season my preparation was aimed at the World Championships and a successful performance there. My plan was to get at least one gold medal for our country and to become a world champion,” Shyshkova said. “This has been my dream for a long time and this dream came true. So, keep wishing, because dreams must come true!”

While expectations are even higher for her heading into the new World Cup season, Shyshkova is not getting distracted ahead of the first races, which take place in Canmore, Canada from 9-17 December.

“In terms of expectations and plans for this season, I’m not making any guesses right now, but I want to show a result that’s not worse than the one from last season,” she said.

Her main goal this season is the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. The Ukrainian skier has already competed at two editions of the Games, at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014, winning four bronze medals at the latter.

While she lists these bronze medals as her biggest sporting achievement to date, Shyshkova is eager to do even better at PyeongChang 2018, where she plans to use her past Paralympic experience to get ahead of the competition.

“At the first Paralympic Games, the main thing was that I was taking part in a competition of such a high level,” she said. “I was more focused and aware during the preparation for the Paralympic Games in Sochi. I was focused not on participating, but on the outcome. From year to year, my training has changed, the goals and tasks were set higher and higher.”

Keen to progress, Shyshkova made even more changes ahead of the 2018 Games.

“After the World Championships in Cable [USA] in 2015, I started training with a different coach, changed my guide and changed my methods of preparation,” Shyshkova said, though she declined to reveal any more “secrets of my preparation.”

Shyshkova’s teammate Maksym Yarovyi is also keen to improve on his results from the previous season, which included a second consecutive overall win in the Cross-country World Cup.

“It’s possible to improve the results in biathlon,” the cross-country specialist said of his goals for the upcoming season. “We are working on that.”

Yarovyi competed in his first Paralympic Games at Sochi 2014 and won three silver medals there. Similarly to Shyshkova, he expects this experience to help him do even better at the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang.

“The main lesson [from Sochi 2014] was that I need to work more and be less nervous,” Yarovyi said. “Calmness, only calmness!”