By Emily Goddard

Maria Iovleva 040313March 4 - Russia won two gold medals in the mixed and open team relay events today at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Nordic Skiing World Championships in Sollefteå.

The next Winter Olympic and Paralympic host nation started with Maria Iovleva, gold medallist in the women's sitting cross-country skiing sprint race, who came to the first exchange in seventh place in the inaugural mixed relay.

Elena Remizova and her guide Natalia Yakimova kept the Russian team in seventh place before four-time world champion Mikhailina Lysova and guide Alexey Ivanov advanced to second, behind Ukraine.

It was then three-time world champion Nikolay Polukhin and his guide Andrey Tokarev who overtook Ukraine's Oleksandra Kononova on the last leg to secure the gold medal.

The Ukrainian team of Kononova, Iruii Utkin and guide Viatlii Kazakov and Iuliia Batenkova took home the silver medal, coming in 17 seconds behind Russia, while Germany's relay squad, made up of double world champion Andrea Eskau, bronze medallist Wilhelm Brem and guide Florian Grimm and standing skier Tino Uhlig, finished third, 24 seconds ahead of fourth-place finishers, Sweden.

Russia and Ukraine also topped the podium in the open team relay.

Russia started off with three-time world champion in the sitting category, Roman Petushkov, who had to ski against standing skiers Vegard Dahle of Norway, France's Benjamin Daviet and Ukrainian Ihor Reptyukh.

Dahle exchanged first for Norway, followed by Daviet and Petushkov, who handed over to Vladislav Lekomtcev - world champion in the men's standing sprint race, who passed Norway's Hakan Olsrud to take the lead.

Rushan Minnegulov 040312Rushan Minnegulov helped Russia take home gold in the open team relay

Anatolii Kovalevskyi and his guide Oleksandr Mukshyn went ahead of France's Yannick
Bourseaux, silver medallist in the men's standing biathlon long distance race, to hand over to their teammate Olga Prylutska and guide Volodymyr Mogylnyi in third position.

On the third leg, it was a fight between sit skiers Trygve Steinar Larsen for Norway and Russia's world champion Grigory Murygin, with the better end for the Russian.

He secured a 16-second lead for Russia's last skier Rushan Minnegulov, two-time medallist at these championships, which was enough to bring home the second gold medal of the day for Russia.

France gained again one spot on the third leg, which was Daviet's second leg of the relay as he passed up Prylutska on the track before handing over to Thomas Clarion and his guide Julien Bourla.

The Ukrainian team however had one of their strongest skiers on the fourth leg, with multiple medallist Vitaliy Lukyanenko and guide Borys Babar pulling out all the stops to not only pass Clarion but also Norway's world champion Nils-Erik Ulset, to take the silver medal.

The Norwegians finished in third place just two seconds behind the Ukrainians and 25 seconds ahead of France.

The 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships conclude tomorrow with the cross-country skiing middle distance races.

Contact the writer of this story at emily.go[email protected]


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