December 14 - Proving they will be the team to beat on home soil during Sochi 2014, Russian athletes claimed 15 of the 18 medals available on the first day of biathlon competition at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing World Cup in Canmore.
The Russians fired out warning shots in more ways than one as all six gold medals went their way, while only three of the 18 podium places available were occupied by a non-Russian.
Irek Zaripov started the ball rolling as he saw off the challenge of Japan's Kozo Kubo and teammate Aliaksandr Davidovich to take the sitting 7.5 kilometre title while it was a similar scenario in the men's standing race.
This time Nils-Erik Ulset was the meat in the Russian sandwich as he took silver to split third placed man Kirill Mikhaylow and winner Azat Karachurin at the Canmore Nordic Centre, built for the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
The women's standing 6km event was the only other podium that contained a non-Russian with Japan's Momoko Dekijima managing to secure a bronze medal behind second placed Natalia Bratiuk, while Alena Kaufman took top spot helped by a perfect performance in the shooting stage where she did not drop any shots.
A superb performance with the rifle saw both Marta Zaynullina and Svetlana Konovalove battle it out in a thrilling finale to the women's sitting 6km race that went the way of Zaynullina by a narrow margin in a time of 22min 20.80sec, with third place going to Nadezda Andreeva.
In the men's visually impaired (VI) competition, double Paralympic champion Nikolay Polukhin showed his class once again by adding to his four world titles earlier this year as he finished comfortably clear of teammates Vladimir Uldaltcov and Stanislav Chokhlaev in second and third respectively.
The big upset of the day came in the women's VI race as Iuliia Budaleeva got the better of Vancouver 2010 gold medallist and nine-time world champion Mikhalina Lysova, who despite a clean shooting round was outdone for speed by her compatriot.
The same was true for bronze medallist Elena Remizova, who had a poor day with the rifle incurring five penalties, but made up for it by her skiing speed.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
December 2013: Second gold for McKeever and hatrick for Marthinsen on long distance day at Nordic skiing World Cup
December 2013: Marthinsen continues gold medal run at IPC World Cup
December 2013: Russia take triple gold to open IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup