Ukraine and France sealed gold in the cross-country mixed and open relays on Wednesday (15 February) at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau, Germany.
The Ukrainian team, made up of Sochi 2014 silver medallist Iurii Utkin, guided by Ruslan Perekhoda, Liudmyla Liashenko, multiple-Paralympic champion Oleksandra Kononova and seven-time Paralympic silver medallist Iuliia Batenkova clocked 26:56.5 to win the mixed relay.
It was the third gold for standing skier Liashenko and the second for visually impaired skier Iurii Utkin. Standing athletes Kononova and Batenkova both won their first cross-country titles in Finsterau.
“This is a really good result, we made a huge effort to achieve this,” said Ukrainian head coach Andriy Nesterenko.
The Swedish team (27:17.5), with Helena Ripa and Zebastian Modin and guide Johannes Andersson took silver.
Belarus (28:12.3) collected bronze thanks to Dzmitry Loban, Sviatlana Sakhanenka, guided by Iryna Nafranovich, Valiantsina Shyts and Mikita Ladzesau and guide Aliaksei Lukyanau.
The French team successfully defended their title from 2015 in the open relay with a time of 23:55.9. Benjamin Daviet, Anthony Chalencon and guide Simon Valverde, and Thomas Clarion, guided by Antoine Bollet made up the team.
Norway (24:19.7), with Nils-Erik Ulset, Hakon Olsrud, and Eirik Bye and guide Arvid Nelson, finished second. Canada (24:53.4) won bronze through Brian McKeever and guide Graham Nishikawa, Emily Young and Mark Arendz.
“We love this race and it is nice to have won it,” said Clarion.
The competition at Finsterau 2017 will continue on Thursday (16 February) with the long distance cross-country.
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