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Medals in cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing at stake at Sochi Paralympics on Sunday

March 09, 2014, 7:17 UTC+3 SOCHI

Sitting ski races will be the first events in cross-country skiing at the Paralympics

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© AP/Dmitry Lovetsky

SOCHI, March 09, /ITAR-TASS/. Five sets of medals will be contested at the XI Paralympic Winter Games in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Sunday. Paralympic athletes will compete for medals in cross-country skiing and Alpine skiing, Russian wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey teams will hold next matches.

On Sunday, cross-country skiing competitions will start at the Sochi Paralympics, though many athletes have already started in biathlon on Saturday. Sitting ski races will be the first events in cross-country skiing at the Paralympics. Male skiers will start at 10:00 Moscow time in 15km race, women will ski at 12:30 Moscow time in 12.5km race. Russia pins high hopes on Roman Petushkov, 36, who has won 7.5km biathlon race on the first day of the Sochi Paralympics and has won the silver medal in 15km ski race in Canada’s Vancouver in 2010. Along with Petushkov, Russian skiers Alexander Davidovich and Irek Zaripov, who has won in 15km ski race and 10km ski race in Vancouver, will start in Sochi. Zaripov came tenth in sprint biathlon race at the Sochi Paralympics on Saturday.

Russian female skiers Akzhana Abdikarimova, Nadezhda Andreeva, Svetlana Konovalova and Natalia Kocherova will run in 12.5km ski race. Konovalova has clinched the silver medal in sprint biathlon race on Saturday.

Skiers use monoskis for sit-skiing competitions. Monoski is equipped with a seat with bindings and a special suspension easing the burden on the athlete’s body.

Alpine skiers will contest for medals in men’s super-G in three disciplines. Visually impaired skiers will start at 10:00 Moscow time. Alpine skiers Valery Redkozubov and Ivan Frantsev will compete for Russia. These two skiers were left without any medals in downhill ski race on Saturday. Aleksey Bugaev, who has won the silver medal in downhill ski race on Saturday, and Alexander Alyabyev will start at 10:20 Moscow time in men’s super-G standing race. No Russian Alpine skiers will compete in men’s super-G sitting race.

Paralympic athletes in Alpine skiing fall into three categories: athletes performing in a standing position, sitting athletes using a monoski in downhill, visually impaired athletes who follow leaders, guide skiers, who go ahead and inform athletes about the trail’s current features via a radio set.

Different classes of athletes can use different equipment: monoskis, one or two ski poles, outriggers - ski and pole combined. A special calculation system gives athletes equal opportunities depending on their classes and equipment.

On Sunday, wheelchair curling matches will be held in round robin session 3 and session 4. Russia will play at 09:30 Moscow time with Finland in session 3 and will not play in session 4.

This discipline is an adaptation of curling for wheelchair athletes with disabled limbs or gait. Paralympic curling differs from traditional discipline in the way athletes move on ice and in absence of sweeping - rubbing the ice in front of the moving stone with a special brush. Two teams of four players of both sexes, at least one for each, and one substitute, aim at the centre of the target called house. Athletes are allowed to launch stones on ice from the static wheelchair using either hands or a special extendable stick with a plastic end called extender.

Russian ice sledge hockey squad will play at 20:00 Moscow time a second Group B preliminary round match with Italy. Both teams have lost their first matches and a second defeat will ruin their hopes to qualify to semifinals.

Sledge hockey is Paralympic version of ice hockey for athletes with disabled lower extremities. Instead of skates sportsmen use special sledges with two runners, so that the puck slips in between. Athletes have a hockey stick in each hand. One of its end is curved like in traditional hockey while the other has metal teeth attached. The curved end is used to control the puck, to pass it or send to the goal, while teeth help athletes push and move around. Both sticks can be used for control of puck at once.

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