Russia, Germany hit gold early at Winter Paralympics

Sochi, March 8: Russia and Germany turned out to be early gold grabbers with both claiming a skiing title at the Winter Paralympics here Saturday.

Russian Roman Petushkov won the men’s 7.5 km sitting biathlon in 21 minutes and 3.7 seconds. He was followed by Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi and Japan’s Kozo Kubo with times of 21:11.9 and 21:45.6, respectively, reports Xinhua.

In the women’s 6 km sitting biathlon, Germany’s Andrea Eskau won with a time of 19 minutes and 12.4 seconds. Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova, who was ninth among 10 starters after the 2 km mark, finished second in 19:31.1 while Ukraine’s Olena Iurkovska came third in 19:39.6.

An accident occurred on the alpine skiing slopes where Tyler Walker from the United States crashed during the men’s sitting downhill and has been air-lifted from the slopes. The 27-year-old, competing in his third Paralympics, was seen cartwheeling several times after crashing.

Competition fanned out in the ice and snow competition centres on Day 1.

On ice, South Korea, runners-up of wheelchair curling from 2010 Vancouver, suffered a stunning opening round defeat of 0-10 in six ends to Norway. Hosts Russia surprised China with a final-end score to win their first round 5-4.

The Chinese, who have pulled off some bronze medal performances at the 2011, 2012 and 2013 World Championships, twice came from behind before losing it all in the eighth and final end.

In ice sledge hockey group action, 2010 bronze medallists Norway were stretched into overtime and then game-winning-shots before they pulled away 2-1.

In total, 72 gold medals are on offer in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, wheelchair curling, ice sledge hockey and snowboarding here.

IANS