Alpine and Nordic skiing Worlds conclude in Zakopane

Russia, Japan and France have left the 2018 International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (World Intellectual Impairment Sport) World Alpine and Nordic Skiing Championships with the majority of medals after competition concluded in Zakopane, Poland, on Friday (2 March).

Battling against very cold conditions dropping to as low as -15c, nearly 60 skiers from nine countries braved the slopes and trails in the hunt for world titles.

Russia opened their medal account on the first day of competition on Tuesday (27 February) in the cross-country skiing. The country blocked out the women’s 5km freestyle II1 podium and took a further two spots in the men’s 10km freestyle II1.

In the women’s, Elena Shchukina (18:39.0) opened her Championships with victory. Shchukina led two of her teammates onto the podium as Victoria Prokofeva (19:22.9) and Ekaterina Babaeva (20:20.1) were second and third, respectively.

The trio then swapped podium places the following day in the sprint classic. Prokofeva (3:59.9), Babaeva (3:45.8) and Shchukina (3:40.4) were first, second and third respectively.

Another Russian, Ivan Volegov, claimed gold in the men’s 10km in a time of 28:57.7 on Tuesday. Patryk Jakiela (29:20.1) handed the hosts their first medal of the competition with silver. Volegov’a compatriot Aleksandr Sorokin (29.42.17) completed the top three.

France’s Clement Colomby (20:47.6) secured gold in the men’s 10km freestyle II2 and sprint classic II2.

The sprints for II1 athletes took place on Wednesday (28 February) and delivered more gold for Russia.

Volegov (3:06.01) was quickest over the 1.2km course, beating Estonia’s defending champion Hans Teearu (2:51.3) into silver. Ivan Martiushev (2:52.2) grabbed another medal for Russia with bronze.

Poland were the defending champions in the men’s 3×2.5km relay but they proved to be no match for the Russians on Thursday (1 March).

Maksim Skurikhin, Volegov and Charushnikov (23:38.3) put on an impressive display. Skurikhin and Volegov’s first two legs were both under 8 minutes – the two quickest on the day.

The hosts’ Michal and Jerzy Krzanowsky and Jakiela (25:23.9) did still finish on the podium, taking silver.

France’s Yann Guebay, Dorian Traversaz and Gael Solomon (25:59.7) were third.

Babaeva and Prokofeva (21:46.1) kept up their 100 per cent podium record in the women’s 3×2.5km relay. The Japanese duo of Rena Aoyagi and Kei Nakazawa (26:57.6) were second.

In the mixed relay Shchukina, Martiusev and Sorokin (28:58.0) secured gold. They were followed by France’s Lea Thiroux, Stephane Kelkal and Solomon (29.47.3).

Aoyagi also competed in the mixed relay for Japan, taking bronze alongside Kohei Abe and Yutaro Murakoshi (32:00.3).

Rounding off the action were the long distance, mass start races on Friday.

In the women’s 10km freestyle II1 Shchukina (38:27.2) topped the podium once again, bringing her gold medal total to two. Sweden’s Kristin Bjorfeldt (42:30.2) was second ahead of France’s Thiroux (46:49.7) in third.

Poland’s Jakiela (44:59.8) retained his title in the men’s 15km freestyle II1, much to the delight of his home crowds. Teearu (45:28.8) was second and Charushnikov (45:48.9) third.

Alpine skiing

Opening the action on Tuesday was the slalom and if Russia dominated the cross-country skiing, the alpine belonged to Japan and France.

France’s Melania De Bonna (1:20.10) successfully defended her title in the women’s II1 with two leading runs.

Turkey’s Kader Yavus Ayse (1:24.28) was second, followed by Czech Republic’s Denisa Macurova (1:24.65).

De Bonna (1:16.97) retained her second title of the week in the giant slalom II1. Macurova (1:17.80) joined her on the podium once again, this time taking silver. Japan’s Mariko Yuge (1:20.21) rounded-off the top three.

The Frenchwoman then sealed her third gold medal of the week in the women’s super-G II1. De Bonna (38.00) went quickest with Yuge (38.99) only slightly behind. Macurova (39.64) was third.

Yoshihide Kimura (1:06.17) led a Japanese one-two in the men’s slalom II1, re-claiming his gold from Gourette, France, in 2017. Teammate Waturu Hiranoi (1:10.63) bagged the silver ahead of France’s Antoine Maure (1:10.98).

Just 24 hours later Kimura (1:13.11) stepped onto the top spot of the podium once again after winning the men’s giant slalom II1. Compatriot Yusuke Kizuke (1:15.15) was second. Alexander Haissl of Austria just missed out on silver, sealing bronze in 1:15.22.

Kimura also proved unstoppable in the men’s super-G II1 on Friday, sweeping all three world titles on offer in Zakopane.

He skied a time of 36.58, racing into the history books and leading an-all Japanese podium.

Hiranoi Wataru (37.21) was second and Kizuke (37.95) third.

Friday also featured the men’s super-G II2 where victory was claimed by another Japanese skier, Hiroki Miyoshi (41.12). France’s Paul Riche (42.67) was second.

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