The second and final World Cup of the season got underway on Thursday the 25th of March in Vuokatti, Finland. Some teams made it to this event that missed Planica like Canada, Great Britain and Belarus and some teams didn’t attend like France and the USA.
It’s a stange season to be awarding World Cup winners with just two rounds and some athletes racing one World Cup and not another and some not racing at all. However thats’s the season we have and it’s good that there were at least some races with the Paralympic Games coming up in under a year’s time.
There were only two biathlon races on the schedule and they were the sprint and individual events.
In the absence of Oksana Masters and Kendall Gretsch the women’s sitting races were wide open. The sprint went to Anja Wicker from Germany shooting 10/10. In fact the shooting was sublime with second placed Natalia Kocherova and third placed Irina Guliaeva also shooting zero. Wicker came out on top in the individual too, in front of Kocherova and Marta Zainulllina, meaning she took the overall title and did so by hitting every single target in the 5 races in the season.
The men’s sitting sprint was won by Ivan Golubkov with 9/10, his teammate Danila Britik shot the same in second place and there was a perfect shoot for Taras Rad in third. It was a great day for the British team on the range with all three athletes, Scott Meenagh, Steve Arnold and Calum Deboys, shooting 10/10. With victory in the individual, over Rad and Britik, Golubkov finished the season undefeated and took the overall title.
In the visually impaired (VI) races the biathletes shoot with their ears instead of their eyes by listening for the sound of the laser getting closer and closer to the target. In the women’s sprint it was Vera Khylzova with guide Natalia Iakimova who was victorious. She hit 10/10 to finish ahead of Sviatlana Sakhanenka who is guided by former IBU biathlete Dzmitry Budzilovich. She hit 7/10 but still held off Iuliia Smirnova who shot clean for third place with guide Eduard Berezin. Khylzova won the individual ahead of Oksana Shyshkova and Smirnova to secure the overall title with just 1 missed target all season.
In the men’s VI sprint it was victory for Belarus with Yury Holub with guide, former World Cup biathlete, Vladimir Chepelin. He missed two shots but still beat Stanislas Chokhlaev and Nikolai Polukhin into second and third even though they both hit all 10. Holub didn’t race the individual and so this time Chokhlaev took the win ahead of Iaroslav Reshetynskyi and Vasili Shapsiaboi and with it the overall title.
There were no surprises in the standing races with Vladislav Lekomtsev winning the men’s race to head a clean sweep of the podium by Russia. Vitalii Malyshev was second and Ivan Kodlozerov third. All three men hit 9/10. Victory in the individual, ahead of Gygorii Vovchynskyi and Kodlozerov, meant a clean sweep of the races for Lekomtsev and the overall title.
In the women’s standing it was Ukraine on top of the podium with Liudmyla Liashenko in first place ahead of compatriot Yuliia Batenkova-Bauman both with 9/10. Third place went to Ekaterina Rumyantseva with 7/10. Liashenko also won the individual race with Batenkova-Bauman and Rumyantseva again behind her to take the overall with the pefect season winning all her races.
Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!