On March 17, sprint races in the framework of the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals were staged at the "Laura" Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center in Sochi.
The starts in sprint took place at the "Laura" Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center for athletes with a physical disability, performing in a standing position, seated athletes (spinal cord injury) and visually impaired athletes.
The events for athletes with physical disabilities, performing in a standing position, were won by Russians Anna Milenina and Kirill Mikhailov, a silver medal was awarded to Ukrainian, Yulia Batenkova and Rushan Minnegulov (Russia), and a bronze was won by Shoko Ota of Japan and Vegard Dahle of Norway.
27 male athletes from 12 countries and 15 female athletes from 7 countries competed on a track with a length of 1,500 m and a vertical drop of 24 m.
Among seated athletes, German Andrea Eskau and Ukrainian Maksim Yarovy won, with Mariann Marthinsen (Norway) and Grigoriy Murygin (Russia) in second place, and Francesca Porcellato (Italy) and Trygve Steinar Larson (Norway) achieving third place.
The length of the distance was 800 m and the vertical drop was 6 m. 25 athletes from 9 countries participated in the mens' race events and 16 athletes from 8 countries competed in the ladies' events.
The sprint finals for visually impaired athletes were a victory for the Russian team. Mikhalina Lysova (gold), Elena Remizova (silver) and Yulia Budaleeva (bronze) achieved a place on the podium for the ladies. In the mens' final, Stanislav Chokhlaev, achieving second place and medal winner Aleksei Toropov, third, lost out only to the Canadian Brian McKeever.
In total, 17 athletes from 9 countries competed in mens' events and 7 athletes from 4 countries performed in ladies' events at the same track at which athletes in a standing position competed.
On March 18, in the framework of the IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals, long distance cross country skiing events will be staged.
Anna Milenina (Russia): "We can feel the support on the track, we can feel that this is happening throughout Russia. It is really great to hear the spectators' voices already".
Sergei Shilov, six time Paralympic Champion in Cross-Country Skiing, Sochi 2014 Ambassador (Russia):
"I really like it. The track is great, really interesting, the entire event is right before the spectators' eyes, it's really interesting. We are at home here, everything is understood, everything is accessible, there is no language barrier. So much is being done now that even if there were some issues, they are all dealt with, the organizers meet with us often, they ask how they can make it better. The organization is no worse, and even better, than the organization at any international competitions. We were recently at the World Championship in Sweden, it is much better here, higher quality, the work of the volunteers and the judges".
Svetlana Konovalova (Russia):
"Everything is good, the course is great and good for skiing on. The organization was super, and I'm happy with everything, everything was right. The ski complex is working 100%.
Nadezhda Andreeva (Russia):
"I'm really happy, but it was a tough battle. I'm pleased with the organization, everything was wonderful. We need to continue working in that same way.
Andrea Eskau (Germany):
"Everything was brilliantly organized. It was all done for us and adapted to the needs of wheelchair users".
Aleksei Toropov (Russia):
"The course was good. Sochi is a beautiful place and everything was fantastic. I'm happy about everything, although that might be because it's all in Russia. Amazing organization, the fans were great today. There's never been as much support as that in Russia and you can really feel it now".
Vivian Hoesch (Germany):
"The course today was good and quite fast. Everyone here is very kind and I like it. It's my dream to win a medal at the Paralympic Games in Sochi and I'll do everything to achieve it!"
Olga Prilutska (Ukraine):
"Everything is great, it's all good. Good people, good atmosphere, you can feel the support, especially at the finish, and the roar from the stands. It's nice".
Kirill Mikhailov, Sochi 2014 "Our Champion" (Volga Federal District) (Russia):
"The skiing complex is good, the course is in good shape and you have to work throughout the course. You can feel the support and the fans are cheering all along the course and that really raises your spirits. Great organization, full marks".
Trygve Steinar Larsen (Norway):
"I can definitely feel the support. I feel that there are many people working on this, lots of volunteers. I'm happy to be competing here".
Brian McKeever (Canada):
"Great courses. They're difficult and that's why they're interesting, with all these ups and downs. I liked it. The stadium and courses are very good. Everything has been done very professionally. The volunteers are just the best".
Irek Zaripov (Russia):
"You can feel the support. You're at home and on home soil and there's already huge support. It's a real plus that the Paralympics will be here".
Irina Gromova, senior trainer of the Russian team:
"It's nice that all the foreigners are being met with such warmth and understanding. They're really satisfied and I keep hearing from them: super, fantastic, perfect. We're very happy with everything: The venue, Sochi itself and the food. They're all happy here at the moment."
Information for the editor
The "Laura" Cross-country Ski and Biathlon Center is unique in having two separate stadiums with the start and finish zones, two separate systems of courses for cross-country skiing, biathlon and shooting and zones for preparing to compete.
The complex is located on the peak and slopes of the Psekhako Ridge, 6.5 to 10 km north-east of Krasnaya Polyana. Laura is a turbulent mountain river with a large number of waterfalls. It starts on the southern slopes of the Assara Ridge on the edge of the Caucasus Nature Reserve.