March 5 - Russia's skiers sent out a strong message to their would-be challengers at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics, as the next Winter Games host nation continued to dominate the field on the final day of competition at the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Sollefteå.
Claiming a total of 56 medals, with 22 of these being gold, Russia was followed by Ukraine with seven golds, 11 silvers and nine bronze, ahead of Germany's three golds, one silver and two bronze.
Russians Roman Petushkov (pictured top) and Mikhalina Lysova finished off the tournament in Sweden on perfect form as the pair picked up their fifth gold medals of the event in the cross country skiing middle distance races.
Lysova and her guide Alexey Ivanov were unbeatable on the track, finishing in a time of 15min 51.8sec to secure the gold medal.
She finished 33 seconds ahead of her compatriot Elena Remizova and guide Natalia Yakimova who clocked 16:24.7 to earn second place and the silver, while their teammate Iuliia Budaleeva and guide Tatiana Maltseva came in 36 seconds later to finish in 16:59.7.
Petushkov, meanwhile, was simply unstoppable in the men's sitting category, dominating the cross-country skiing 10-kilometre race from the start, clocking best times in each intermediate.
His finishing time of 24:41.7 gave him a 43-second advantage over his teammate Grigory Murygin, who was followed to the finish line by Japan's Kozo Kubo to claim his fifth medal of the event, which includes a gold in the men's sitting biathlon long distance race.
It was another podium sweep for Russia in the men's visually impaired category, as Nikolay Polukhin and his guide Andrey Tokarev won their fifth overall gold medal of the World Championships, finishing in a time of 28:01.2.
Polukhin's compatriot Stanislav Choklaev and guide Maksim Pirogov crossed the finish line in a time of 28:35.5 to claim silver ahead of Alexsander Artemov and guide Ilya Cherepanov, who secured bronze after being one minute off Choklaev's pace.
German Andrea Eskau skied to her third gold of the championships as the 41-year-old put in an impressive performance on the track in the women's sitting category to finish in 14:29.5, which put her 16 seconds ahead of Mariann Marthinsen of Norway.
Marthinsen, who did not compete in the biathlon races and thus had time to gather her strength, was in third place after the first 2.5km lap, but picked up her pace on the second lap to take that silver medal in a time of 14:46.0.
Lyudmila Vauchok of Belarus was just 0.4 seconds off the silver medal and won her first medal of the championships, finishing in a time of 14:46.4 to pick up a bronze.
Another Russian podium sweep came again in the men's standing category, with Vladislav Lekomtcev winning his second individual gold medal of the event.
He finished in a time of 27:08.5 just five seconds ahead of his compatriot Rushan Minnegulov, who won his third individual medal in Sweden, before Kirill Mikhailov completed the podium for Russia, clocking a time of 28:13.9, one minute behind the second-place finisher.
Oleksandra Kononova won her first gold medal of the championships in the women's standing category, having picked up five medals already – two silvers and three bronze.
Her time of 15:58.9 put her just 3.6 seconds ahead of her compatriot Iuliia Batenkova, who took home the silver medal, while the bronze went to Sweden's home favourite Helene Ripa, world champion of the sprint race, with a time of 16:43.4.
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