February 12, 2017 (Finsterau, Germany) – Oksana Masters made history on the second day (February 12) of the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau, Germany, by winning her maiden world title to give the USA their first gold in the event.
The 27-year-old was the fastest in the women’s cross-country sprint sitting finishing ahead of Germany’s Andrea Eskau and Belarus’ Lidziya Hrafeyeva, who completed the podium. “I am so excited, oh my God. I am speechless, I do not know what to say!” said Masters fresh from taking gold.
Canada’s Collin Cameron finished just shy of his first career podium placing fourth in the men’s sit-ski classification. Competing for the first time at the premiere Para-nordic ski event, the 28-year-old demonstrated his potential with a personal best performance in sprint racing after a strong fight for fourth place.
The rest of the cross-country sprint races witnesses a few surprises. Ukraine’s Liudmyla Liashenko sprang a big shock in the women’s standing by finally beating her compatriot, defending champion and multiple-Paralympic gold medallist Oleksandra Kononova into silver in a close final. Iryna Bui finished third to secure an all-Ukrainian podium.
“I worked very hard, corrected the mistakes from previous races and this is consequence of that,” said Liashenko.
There was another Ukrainian winner in the men´s standing, with Ihor Reptyukh claiming the third Nordic skiing world title in his career, the first in cross-country.
Poland’s Witold Skupien finished second, whilst Reptyukh’s compatriot Grygorii Vovchynskii ended third to seal his second bronze in Finsterau.
Another rising star for the Canadians, Emily Young, earned a spot in the women’s skate-ski standing final. Competing in her third season, the 26-year-old Vancouverite ended up sixth in a hard fought final.
“It was not perfect, but better than yesterday,” said Young. “I came in with a fresh slate and ready for a fight. I had a race plan and knew the course well. The races got better each time and it was encouraging to hang on to some of the fastest skiers for longer then I could in the past. I am happy with where I am in the sprinting field this far in my career.”
The men’s visually impaired title was claimed by Sweden’s four-time Paralympic medallist. Zebastian Modin, guided by Johannes Andersson. Ukraine’s Iurii Utkin with guide Ruslan Perekhoda, and France´s Thomas Clarion, guided by Antoine Bollet, followed him into the podium.
“One year ago, I was thinking of throwing the skis into the fire, of retiring because of so many injuries I suffered. And now being here is amazing,” said Modin.
The last gold medal of the day was won by Austria’s Carina Edlinger, guided by J.J. Edlinger, in front of a noisy and supportive crowd that never stopped cheering for her.
Ukraine’s cross-country World Cup overall leader Oksana Shyshkova won silver and Belarus’ Sviatlana Sakhanenka took the bronze. “I did not know why but I was failing so many times and being here is a dream for me,” said Edlinger.
On Monday (February 13), there will be official training. The competition at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Finsterau will return on 14 February with the biathlon individual races. A total of 120 athletes from 20 countries are competing.
Complete Results here.
Live results and coverage from the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships are also available at Finsterau2017.com.
The competition can be followed on Facebook.com/ParaNordic, Twitter and Instagram (@ParaNordic).
The Para-Nordic Ski World Championships continue on Tuesday with the biathlon individual races.