France's Anthony Chalencon, guided by Simon Valverde, won the first biathlon race of his career at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Para-Nordic World Cup in Western Center in Ukraine today.
Chalencon, a former Alpine skier, shot clean to claim victory in the men’s individual visually impaired category in a time of 44mins 20.2sec.
He was followed onto the podium by Belarus’ multiple-Paralympic medallist Vasili Shaptsiaboi and guide Dzmitry Budzilovich in 44:58.2.
Shaptsiaboi began his Paralympic career at Sydney 2000 where he won the bronze medal in the men's 4×400m T13 relay.
At Athens 2004 he won gold medals in both the men's tandem road race and time trial for visually impaired cyclists.
His first Winter Paralympics appearance was at Vancouver 2010 where he won two bronze medals in three kilometres biathlon and 20km cross-country freestyle.
Ukraine’s Iaroslav Reshetynskiy, guided by Artur Gergardt, was third on home snow in 44:58.8.
France enjoyed further success courtesy of Benjamin Daviet in the men's standing.
Without dropping a shot, Daviet crossed the finish line first in 40:59.7, in front of Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset and Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi who finished second and third in 43:17.7 and 43:58.4 respectively.
Daviet took his World Cup points total to 220, meaning he is now only 10 points away from leader Ulset.
Three other countries secured wins in biathlon races today.
Ukraine’s Paralympic bronze medallist Oksana Shyshkova, guided by Vitalii Kazakov, won the women’s visually impaired in 45:06.4 to continue her emphatic winning streak.
The 25-year-old, who won four bronze medals at Sochi 2014, has not lost a biathlon race since 2015.
Shyshkova’s compatriot Olga Prylutska and guide Borys Babar crossed the line in 45:12.7 to claim second while Germany’s Clara Klug, guided by Martin Hartl, completed the podium in 47:09.0.
Ukraine’s Vancouver 2010 Paralympic biathlon champion Oleksandra Kononova was the fastest in the women’s standing event in a time of 45:40.9.
Japan’s Momoko Dekijima finished second in 48:09.2 while another Ukrainian, Iuliia Batenkova, took third in 48:33.3.
Germany’s Andrea Eskau added her first biathlon victory to a dominant week.
It was her fourth win overall at Western Center, after she swept the women’s cross-country sitting events.
The German has been in sublime form in Ukraine this week as she aims to defend her world titles in the sprint, middle and long distance events next month.
Eskau won today's sitting biathlon race in 49:11.5.
Belarus’ Lidziya Hrafeyeva was second in 52:19.7 while German Anja Wicker rounded off the top three in 52:30.0.
In the final race of the day, Norway’s Trygve Steinar Larsen emerged as the winner for the first time this season in the men’s sitting, clocking a time of 48:33.8.
Belarus’ overall rankings leader Dzmitry Loban was second in 49:31.0 while Ukraine’s Taras Rad finished in bronze medal position in 49:41.7.
The World Cup biathlon events will continue with the sprint and the middle distance events on Thursday (January 19) and Friday (January 20), following a rest day tomorrow.
This is the last major event before the 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships which will be held in Finsterau in Germany.
Due to be held between February 10 and 19, around 135 athletes from 25 countries will compete.