PyeongChang 2018: Ukraine hungry for more gold

Ukrainian world champions take to the track in search of more victories

a female Para cross-country skier Liudmyla Liashenko is looking to upgrade her bronze to gold on day 5 of PyeongChang 2018 © • Getty Images

On Wednesday (14 March) the focus shifts back to cross-country skiing at Alpensia. The sprint race in the classic style will provide some great entertainment. In this event the competitors must race head to head instead of against the clock which is an exciting prospect for the large crowds that have graced the stadium since the start of the Games.

The Ukrainian team already have thirteen medals in the Nordic events but they have the potential to win many more. They will again field a strong team that includes the reigning world champions in the standing event, Liudmyla Liashenko and Ihor Reptyukh. Liashenko has been third three times this week and so will be determined to finish higher on the podium this time around.

"It's very hard. Each medal comes with hardship. It's never easy. Now I have medals, but I want to get higher places and more medals."

Reptyukh has already won gold in the cross country long distance and would love to win in the shortest distance too.

"That would be important for the country and for me, I am very happy with my work so far.”

Maksym Yarovyi is another Ukrainian who will start the race as world champion. He took the men’s sitting sprint title in Finsterau and has a good chance of repeating that success. He also won gold in the long distance race on Sunday.

The women’s world champion is America’s Oksana Masters. However her participation in the race is in some doubt as she was unable to finish the biathlon 10km race on Tuesday. This could leave the door open for Germany’s Andrea Eskau to win a third medal with her experience and relaxed attitude to racing.

"I'm so old I could not get so excited like the young girls. They are getting crazy about the races and I'm not and maybe that's why I'm on top. I believe in that,” explained Eskau. “The others are really stressed, even at the start, and I said to myself, it's just like any other training.”

The vision impaired sprint should be an enthralling one with two great clashes in prospect. Austrian Carina Edlinger is the current World Champion but she will have to beat the Paralympic Champion from Sochi 2014 Mikhalina Lysova if she wants gold.

The men’s vision impaired sprint will feature Brian McKeever in pursuit of a twelfth Paralympic gold medal. He won this race in Sochi despite falling in the final. He got up again and remarkably was still able to claim gold. However at the World Championships in Finsterau he was beaten into second place by Sweden’s Zebastian Modin. Now he knows McKeever is beatable Modin will go all out to spoil the Canadian’s party.

Every competition as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.