Daniel Cnossen keeps title hopes alive

Paralympic champion wins World Cup finals opener

male Para Nordic sit skier Daniel Cnossen pushes through the snow Paralympic champion Daniel Cnossen closed the gap at the top of the World Cup standings with a win in Sapporo © • Getty Images

Paralympic champion Daniel Cnossen kept his hopes of winning a coveted Crystal Globe alive, taking the opening biathlon race of the World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup Finals in Sapporo, Japan, on Wednesday.

Fresh from taking two silvers at the Prince George 2019 World Championships, the US skier won the highly-competitive men’s biathlon middle distance sitting on Japanese soil and now sits second in the biathlon overall World Cup rankings with 679 points.

Cnossen topped a podium of Paralympic champions. Ukraine’s Taras Rad ended second in the event he won at PyeongChang 2018 but remains top of the World Cup rankings with 730 points. South Korea’s Shin Eui Hyun finished in third.

Double US celebration

There was a US 1-2 in the women’s sitting, with five-time Prince George 2019 champion Oksana Masters repeating yet again an outstanding performance to finish top of the podium.

It is hard to believe this was the comeback season for the two-time Paralympic champion, who had two surgeries on her elbow after last year’s Winter Games.

Masters’ compatriot Kendall Gretsch ended second, while Germany’s Anja Wicker completed the podium.

Daviet well on course

Benjamin Daviet showed once again why he is nicknamed ‘The flying Frenchman’ as he claimed the men’s standing to widen the gap between him and his opponents in the overall World Cup rankings.

Canada’s PyeongChang 2018 champion Mark Arendz was second and Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi third.

Ukrainian dominance

There were plenty of medals for the Eastern European country to celebrate – including triple gold on the first day of competition in Sapporo.

Four-time Paralympic champion Oleksandra Kononova delivered a dominant performance in the women’s standing to reaffirm her position as No. 1 in the overall rankings. Compatriot Iryna Bui and Canadian Emily Young completed the top three.

Ukraine’s Liudmyla Liashenko, who swept all biathlon events at Prince George 2019, ended in a surprising seventh place.

There was a Ukrainian 1-2-3 in the men’s vision impaired, with Dmytro Suiarko, guided by Vasyl Potapenko, coming in first.

Iaroslav Reshetynskyi and guide Kostiantyn Yaremenko, and Vitaliy Luk’yanenko, guided by Borys Babar, completed the podium.

PyeongChang 2018 gold medallist Oksana Shyshkova, guided by Vitaliy Kazakov, was first in the women’s vision impaired. She was followed by Germany’s Clara Klug and guide Martin Hartl, who only days ago swept all biathlon events at the World Championships.

Competition continues on 14 March with the biathlon sprint races. Live results are provided on World Para Nordic Skiing’s website.