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    • Sochi 2014: Previewing the biathlon and cross-country skiing competitions

      March 5, 2014

      After winning 56 medals, including 22 golds, at the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games host nation is expected to shine the brightest in the biathlon cross-country skiing events, which are being contested across three sport classes beginning on Saturday (8 March).

      In cross-country skiing, racers will compete in sprint, middle and long-distance events as well as team relays.

      Russia dominated cross-country skiing at Vancouver 2010, and heading into Sochi, sit-skier Roman Petushkov and visually impaired skier Mikhalina Lysova have the potential to be two of the biggest individual medal winners. Double-world champion Lysova, guided by Alexey Ivanov, won a gold and two silvers in Vancouver, while Petushkov dominated all distances at last year's World Championships. Lysova's teammate, five-time world champion Elena Remizova, might just be her biggest competition.

      The Ukrainians will try to challenge the Russians with a contingent led by two strong women - Iryna Bui, who is a 17-year-old world champion, and Iuliia Batenkova, who is a nine-time Paralympic medallist but still in search of her first gold.

      Brian McKeever, who just missed out on qualifying for the Olympics with Canada, is a seven-time Paralympic champion in the visually impaired class and will be racing with his relatively new guide Eric Carleton for the first time at the Paralympics in cross-country skiing.

      The biathlon results may look quite similar to those of cross-country skiing, as the Russians are expected to repeat - and potentially better - their Vancouver 2010 success in the sport, which will include sprint, middle and long-distance events.

      In Sochi, they will be led by men's visually impaired star Nikolay Polukhin, whose six Paralympic medals at Vancouver 2010 were the most of any athlete, as well as 19-year-old men's sitting world champion Grigory Murygin. Polukhin, in particular, has dominated the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup circuit the last four years and is at the prime of his career.

      Both Canada's Mark Arendz and Japan's Kozo Kubo are in search of their first Paralympic medals after steadily rising in the men's standing and sitting ranks, respectively, the last four years.

      Entering her fourth Paralympics, Ukraine's Olena Iurkovska will look to dominate the women's sitting events and add to her collection of three Paralympic biathlon golds.


      Venue: Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Centre Medal events: 20 (cross-country skiing) and 18 (biathlon)

      Athletes: 170


      • Sitting: Athletes with a leg impairment and decreased or no trunk function
      • Standing: Athletes with a leg, arm or combined leg and arm impairments
      • Visually impaired: Athletes who are blind or have a restricted visual field

      Paralympic Games debut: Ornskoldsvik 1976 (cross-country skiing) and Lillehammer 1994 (biathlon)

      Cross-country skiing

      • Russia: 7 golds, 9 silvers, 6 bronze, 22 total
      • Canada: 3 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze, 5 total
      • Germany: 3 golds, 1 silver, 0 bronze, 4 total


      • Russia: 5 golds, 7 silvers, 4 bronze, 16 total
      • Ukraine: 3 golds, 3 silvers, 4 bronze, 10 total
      • Germany: 3 golds, 0 silvers, 2 bronze, 5 total

      Norway lead the all-time Paralympic cross-country skiing medal count with 77 golds. Also, visually impaired biathletes are assisted by acoustic signals which, depending on signal intensity, indicate when they are on target.

      Brian McKeever, Canada
      Mikhalina Lysova, Russia
      Iryna Bui, Ukraine
      Iuliia Batenkova, Ukraine
      Elena Remizova, Russia
      Roman Petushkov, Russia
      Mark Arendz, Canada
      Olena Iurkovska, Ukraine
      Kozo Kubo, Japan
      Nikolay Polukhin, Russia
      Ihor Reptyukh, Ukraine

      About IPC Nordic Skiing
      The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. The IPC supervises the organisation of the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, and serves as the International Federation for nine sports, for which it oversees and co-ordinates the World Championships and other competitions, including Nordic skiing.

      The IPC is committed to enabling Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and to developing sport opportunities for all persons with a disability from the beginner to elite level. In addition, the IPC aims to promote the Paralympic values, which include courage, determination, inspiration and equality.

      For further information, please contact:
      Lucy Dominy, IPC Public Relations and Campaigns Manager
      E-mail: [email protected]
      or call on Russian mobile at +7 9384541976.

      Alternatively, please visit www.paralympic.org/nordic-skiing or www.ParalympicSport.TV.

      You can also follow IPC Nordic Skiing on Twitter and Facebook: www.Twitter.com/IPCNordic and www.Facebook.com/IPCNordicSkiing.