The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will run from March 4-13, and each day, NBCOlympics.com will recap the biggest stories that happened overnight. Here's what you may have missed from the opening day of Paralympic competition.
Oksana Masters captures her first Paralympic biathlon title
Four-sport athlete Oksana Masters of the U.S. shot clean to claim biathlon gold in the women's 6km sprint sitting (LW10-12), defeating the event's defending gold medalist, teammate Kendall Gretsch, and reigning world champion, Anja Wicker of Germany – both to whom she finished runner-up in those competitions – for her first Paralympic title in the sport and Team USA's first gold of the 2022 Games.
China's Shan Yilin, 20, also shot clean to grab silver, the host nation's first medal in Paralympic Nordic skiing. Gretsch, winner of PTWC paratriathlon gold in Tokyo, took bronze after missing her opening shot in the second bout. Wicker was fifth, missing on three of her 10 attempts. Masters, the event's 2019 world champion, tallied her fifth career Paralympic gold and 11th medal, just six months after winning two titles at the Summer Games.
"I feel on top of the moon right now ... I just cleaned my first race of the season and it just so happened to be at the Paralympic Games, which is wild," Masters said after the race. "In Sochi 2014 I was a medal contender. I went the wrong way and was out of the medals. In PyeongChang I didn't get to race healthy, and here, my third time around – it just feels absolutely incredible."
The Ukrainian-born Kentucky native praised the U.S. Para Nordic team's support and said she's happy to represent Team USA in multiple sports.
"I use sports for me to be able to tell my story and just to show what the human spirit and what the body can do, regardless of every single adversity and setback that's set in front of you. Just to keep pushing through it."
On the men's side of the sprint sitting event, defending gold medalist Dan Cnossen of the U.S. just missed the podium in fourth despite shooting clean. Masters' partner, 2019 world bronze medalist Aaron Pike, placed eighth. Liu Zixu won the event to give China its first gold of the Games, while 2019 world champion Taras Rad improved his fourth-place finish in PyeongChang to silver and earned Ukraine its first medal of the Games.
Ukraine sweeps biathlon podium in men's sprint vision impaired
Ukraine capped off the day's biathlon competition by placing five in the top six of the men's sprint vision impaired (B1-3) in an understandably emotional result for the athletes. Defending champion Vitalii Lukianenko, reigning world bronze medalist Oleksandr Kazik and 2019 world runner-up Dmytro Suiarko – together with respective guides Borys Babar, Serhii Kucheriavyi and Oleksandr Nikonovych – earned gold, silver and bronze.
Earlier in sprint standing (LW1-9), Rad's compatriot Grygorii Vovchynskyi put on a clinic and won by nearly 48 seconds. He dedicated the race to his country.
"When a mother defends her child, it's [about] what she can do. When a person protects his homeland, what can he do? What can I do for my Ukraine, for my country?" Vovchynskyi said. "I'm trying to do my best to represent my country and make the whole world hear the name of Ukraine every day and every time ... I love sport, but today I ran because I want life in Ukraine to move to the future."
Ukraine totaled seven medals on the day, with another win from Oksana Shyshkova in women's sprint vision impaired, Rad's aforementioned silver and Liudmyla Liashenko's silver in women's sprint standing. The nation came close to sweeping three biathlon events in 2018, one medal short each time. It last happened at the 2006 Winter Paralympics – twice – in the women's sprint and middle sitting events, led by five-time champion Olena Iurkovska.
U.S. blanks Canada in rematch of gold medal sled hockey game
Five different Americans scored as Team USA shut out Canada 5-0 in the opening sled hockey game of the 2022 Winter Paralympics. In 2018, it took an overtime period for the U.S. to beat its neighbors 2-1 for the Games title.
Captain Josh Pauls scored the first goal on a power play and Brody Roybal snuck another in from near the blue line before the end of the first. Malik Jones and Josh Misiewicz added goals in the second before 24-year-old Declan Farmer recorded his fourth point of the game with a goal of his own. Farmer's performance made him the all-time U.S. points leader with 26 and counting at the Winter Paralympics.
The two teams met in both world championships over the interim quadrennium and the Americans won each time, a close 3-2 OT victory in 2019 and a solid 5-1 triumph in 2021. The U.S. has won the last three Paralympic golds.
Henrieta Farkasova repeats again in downhill for Games' first gold
The women's downhill vision impaired event served as the first podium of the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games. Slovak Henrieta Farkasova, guided by Martin Motyka, defended her gold again for a third straight Paralympic title, while China's Zhu Daqing and 2018 silver medalist Millie Knight of Great Britain took silver and bronze, respectively. Zhu's runner-up finish also marked the host nation's first medal of the Games.
"I am very happy, it is my 10th Paralympic gold medal," said Farkasova, whose original guide was injured during January's world championships and replaced by Motyka. "I had some problems in my knees the last four years … three operations … so I am very happy to be here and to be racing."
Defending downhill sitting gold medalist Andrew Kurka of the U.S. missed the podium by less than a tenth of a second. The 2017 world champ had issues tightening his line and was bumped out of third by Japan's Taiki Morii.
American Laurie Stephens was one of four monoskiers who fell or skied out on aggressively dry snow during the women's downhill sitting, and the podium consisted only of those who finished. Stephens, a four-time medalist in the event, fell hard on her left shoulder; though she appeared OK, medical staff used a wagon to help her off the course. Next up is Sunday's super-G, the other event in which she won gold during the 2006 Torino Games.
Great Britain topples Team USA in Wheelchair Curling
After starting its Paralympic Games with a heavy defeat to Slovakia, the U.S. mixed wheelchair curling team skipped by Matthew Thums appeared to be in control through six ends against Great Britain in the second round-robin matchup.
However, the Brits, led Gregor Ewan, scored a combined five points in the final two ends to notch a 6-10 victory and stick the Americans with a second straight loss to begin Paralympic competition.