Norway had a golden double on the opening day of the World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup in Vuokatti in Finland as Birgit Skarstein and Vilde Nilsen both earned victories on a day of middle-distance cross-country racing.
“This was really great,” said Skarstein after winning the women’s sitting event in what was her first Nordic race since she became world rowing champion in Plovdiv this summer.
“You never kind of know how everything works out until you have your first race.
“This was really exciting and better than I hoped.
“It’s always a little tough [changing sports].
“It’s brutal in the first races but I rollerski in the summer and ski in the winter so I try to train for both.”
She came home in front of Germany’s Andrea Eskau, with Brazil’s Aline Rocha claiming her first World Cup podium finish with a bronze medal.
For Nilsen, victory in the women’s standing marked her first World Cup gold medal.
The 17-year-old finished ahead of Ukrainians Yuliya Batenkova-Baumann in second and Oleksandra Kononova in third.
There was another first-time winner in the men’s standing – Canada’s Mark Arendz.
“I know I have been close on several occasions,” Arendz said.
“The Games proved that I was close but finally to win on the World Cup is something really special.”
Coming second to Arendz was Japanese 17-year-old Taiki Kawayoke, achieving his personal best World Cup finish.
Third place went to Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi.
America’s Paralympic champion Daniel Cnosson continued his excellent form from Pyeongchang 2018 in winning the men’s standing by a margin of 14 seconds from Ukraine’s Taras Rad.
There was another first for Brazil too, with Cristian Ribera claiming his first podium finish in third.
“It went well, we had good training leading up to this World Cup and with the first race you don’t really know how you stand compared to the other athletes,” said Cnosson.
“So I am happy to see that my fitness is there and I had really good skis today.
“The wax technicians did a really great job.”
There was a surprise in the men’s vision impaired race with Sweden’s Zebastian Moin and guide Jerry Ahrlin beating Canada’s triple Paralympic gold medallist Brain McKeever by almost a minute-and-a-half.
Ukraine’s Iaroslav Reshetynskyi was third.
The women’s vision impaired race went to Austria’s Carine Edlinger with new guide Florian Rupert Seiwald.
She came home ahead of Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova and guide Vitaliy Kazakov.
Leonie Walter and her guide Frank Wagner completed the podium.
The World Cup is due to tomorrow with the cross-country short races.