Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics Saturday in women’s vision impaired downhill skiing, while the USA got off to good start with victories in the biathlon.
Farkasova and her guide Natalia Subrtova finished in 1min 29.72 sec, beating second-placed Millie Knight of Britain and her guide Brett Wild by 0.86 sec.
Farkasova hailed her victory as “great, amazing”, adding: “Hopefully we can inspire through our achievements and (show) others to strive and do their best.”
It was the Slovakian’s sixth Paralympic gold in vision impaired skiing. Belgium’s Eleonor Sana took the bronze medal, finishing the course in 1min 31.60 sec.
In the biathlon — which combines skiing and shooting — USA took gold and silver in the women’s sit ski, with Kendall Gretcsch coming first and Oskana Masters second.
American Daniel Cnossen, a former US Navy Seal, took gold in the men’s sit ski. The USA has the biggest team at the Winter Paralympics with 69 athletes.
Gretsch said her victory was “pretty unexpected”.
“It’s my first Paralympics, first race, so it’s just a great way to kick off the week and hopefully (there’s) more to come,” she said.
There were also victories for France — with Marie Bochet taking gold in the women’s standing downhill skiing — and Germany, with skier Anna Schaffelhuber winning in the women’s sitting.
The Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics were officially opened on Friday night with a glittering ceremony, that included fireworks and light shows.
North Korea took centre stage at the ceremony.
Pyongyang is sending its first ever athletes, two cross-country skiers, to take part in a Winter Paralympics, the last stage of rapprochement with the South that began at last month’s Winter Olympics.