The World Cup’s pursuit races were held at the Winter Sports Center. Today, on August 23, the best roller skiers in the world played gotcha with the winners of yesterday’s prologue. Yesterday’s race was just an introduction to the main event – today’s pursuits in classics. There were heroes, intrigue and even deeds of valour.
During the women’s race, prologue leader Alena Prochazkova from Slovakia left to distance of 11.25 km first with just two seconds advantage from Svetlana Nikolaeva. From the very beginning, the Russian athlete reduced this gap to the minimum and even rolled forward, but later preferred a more advantageous position behind the leader. Prochazkova’s attempt to get away from Nikolaeva found success after 9 km leaving fans without spectacular fight before the finish line. Alena won, being ahead of the Russian athlete by 13.9 seconds. Evgenia Shapovalova was the third one to cross the finish line. The first three positions of the start startlist remained the same in the final protocol.
“The last lap was incredibly hard”, – said Alena Prochazkova. – “We ran fast before and I had to increase my speed even more. My legs hurt but overall I feel good. If everything is okay, I want to participate in all remaining races. I am more of a sprinter but Russian girls are strong so who knows. I hope I’ll do good”.
1. Alena Prochazkova (SVK) – 14:43,3
2. Svetlana Nikolaeva (RUS) – 14:45,3 (+2,0)
3. Evgenia Shapovalova (RUS) – 15:06,6 (+23,3)
In the fight for the first medals of the World Cup stage among junior women Arina Bylinko remain unstoppable. The Russian athlete had more than nine seconds of advantage, but after 2 km she doubled it, running away from Laura Mortagna of Italy. Another Russian athlete Polina Bolshakova was as fast. She reduced her gap and got closer to the Italian athlete by more than twenty seconds. Still Arina Bylinko managed to maintain high speed over the entire distance and calmly finished first, overtaking even some of the participants of the women’s race. The second result was shown by Polina Bolshakova.
Elizaveta Daybova from Khanty-Mansiysk also claimed for the medals. She failed to reduce almost a minute gap from the leader, and from the seventh position in the start list the young Ugra athlete managed to finish third.
1. Arina Bylinko (RUS) – 15.41,5
2. Laura Mortagna (ITA) – 15:50,7 (+9,2)
3. Polina Bolshakova (RUS) – 16:14,5 (+33,0)
Johan Ekberg, the Swedish junior, started with a comfortable advantage of 30 seconds, which did not make him relaxed at all, but allowed to work all 15 km at a high speed without any pressure. The closest pursuers of Ekberg Vladislav Kutyrev and Leonid Markov had five seconds between each other at start and went most of the distance side by side. During the second half of the race Markov made a successful move forward and didn’t giva a chance to Vladislav to fight for the silver. Kutyrev wasn’t alone for a long time, during the final kilometers of the distance he was caught up by Matvey Prokopiev, who also preferred to fight for the bronze long before the finish line and even tried to win a higher award leaving Makarov behind.
Johan shared his feelings after the win: “I felt the same as yesterday so it’s really tough to race right now. It’s been easier before but today I focused on my technique. I couldn’t slow down, because every race is important so you have to give everything you have every time. I think I’ll do quite well tomorrow even though sprint is a whole different race. I’m not as good as I am on individual races. So we’ll see”.
Johan Ekberg (SWE) – 36:58,1
Leonid Markov (RUS) – 38:20,3 (+1:22,2)
Matvey Prokopiev (RUS) – 38:59,1 (+2:01,0)
The men’s pursuit has become perhaps the most unpredictable in many ways. The Olympic champion, Khanty-Mansiysk resident Eugeniy Dementiev, starting second, was on fire. He eliminated more than half of the thirteen-seconds gap from Matteo Tanel during the first uphill, and completely caught up with him on the second one.
The clash of strong wills lasted almost the entire distance. It seemed that Eugeniy spent too much energy during the race, but the last uphill showed Dementiev’s hidden reserves. Tanel didn’t have enough strength for a powerful finish spurt. All he had left was finishing the race in a shadow of Ugra’s win.
The main group of pursuiters was formed of Swedish, Russian and Italian athletes, going 30 seconds behind Tanel and Dementiev. Only Victor Gustafsson of Sweden, who became the bronze medalist of the pursuit race, was able to maintain the fast pace.
“The strategy for the race was simple – to catch up with Matteo as soon as possible because there was a group of four athletes starting right after us with almost no time gaps. So they had the natural advantage. Your speed is higher when you work in a group. We discussed it with Matteo on the way, so everything went as planned. As for the finish, of course, you want to win in a tough fight, it makes everything a little but spicier but it went as it went and I’m happy with it” – told Eugeniy.
1. Eugeniy Dementiev (RUS) – 35:48.0
2. Matteo Tanel (ITA) – +4.6
3. Victor Gustafsson (SWE) – +48.2
In addition to the winners, representatives of Thailand received a huge portion of fans support and applause, as they managed to surpass themselves and finished the entire race not leaving the track.
All results could be found here.
Tomorrow, on August 24, the downtown of Khanty-Mansiysk will host the most spectacular roller ski race of the World Cup stage – sprint. We invite all fans of sports and active lifestyles to have a nice weekend and enjoy the exciting roller skiing fights!