January 11 - Russian athletes upped the ante in Finland today as their biathletes claimed all six gold medals on offer at the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Nordic Skiing World Cup in Vuokatti.
Reigning world champion Nikolay Polukhin led the way in the men's visually impaired short distance biathlon race, edging past Ukraine's Vitaliy Lukyanenko and guide Borys Babar as temperatures plummeted to around minus 12 degrees Celsius.
The Russian, winner of six Paralympic medals at Vancouver 2010, finished the 7.5 kilometre course in 20min 02.7sec, alongside guide Andrey Tokarev, to beat a clean shoot from Lukyanenko by point five of a second.
Polukhin missed one shot on his first loop but, despite the resulting penalty, still managed to lead Lukyanenko and compatriot Anatolli Kovalevskyi, guided by Oleksandr Mukshin, who finished third.
"It felt really nice today, because the weather got colder," 31-year-old Polukhin said.
"It was pretty hard for shooting, because the fingers get cold easily, but in general, shape was good.
"For me, it doesn't matter whether the Paralympic Games are in Russia or Germany, the pressure is huge and spectators expect some great results."
Vancouver 2010 silver medallist Roman Petushkov again got the better of reigning world champion Grigory Murygin in the sitting race.
Having beaten his compatriot in the middle distance event on Wednesday (January 8), Petushkov added another gold to his tally, improving on his fourth place from the last World Cup in Canmore, Canada, to take gold ahead of teammate Aliaksandr Davidovich whilst Murygin was resigned to yet another bronze.
Canada's reigning world champion Mark Arendz continued a disappointing run of form finishing seventh in the men's sitting race to add to the 11th he picked up in the middle distance event on Wednesday.
Russia's Azat Karachurin took full advantage, beating Ukraine's world middle distance biathlon champion Ihor Reptyukh and Norwegian Nils-Erik Ulset to take home the gold,
The Russians swept the board in the women's visually impaired race with six kilometre world champion Mikhalina Lysova, guided by Alexey Ivanov shooting clean to win in 17:45.3, ahead of Elena Remizova and guide Tatiana Maltseva, and Iuliia Budaleeva guided by Natalia Yakimova.
Vancouver 2010 gold medallist Anna Milenina fought off a Ukrainian onslaught to win the women's standing event.
The Russian, who has not been off the podium since making her debut in 2003, finished over 30 seconds ahead of Oleksandr Kononova and more than a minute before short distance world champion Luliia Batenkova to claim her second medal of the World Cup.
Maria Lovleva claimed gold in the women's sitting race, beating Ukrainian Lyudmyla Pavlenko and teammate Nadezdha Fedorova, to complete the day's clean sweep for Russia.
The biathlon action is due to continue again tomorrow in Vuokatti with the pursuit races before athletes head to Oberstdorf, Germany, from January 17 until 19 for the next IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup.
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