On the final day of the FIS Roller Ski World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk athletes were competing in mass-start race.
The races were held in the very heart of Khanty-Mansiysk so all city-dwellers were able to support athletes and watch the spectacular show. Women and junior women were to cover 7 laps 2 kilometers each. The leader among women was changing all the time. During the race almost each participant had a chance to become the head of the main group. The first 8 kilometres of the race all but three athletes were competing for the medals.
Italian skier Lisa Bolzan was the first to cross the finish line, Evgeniya Shapovalova of Russia won silver medal finishing 1 second behind the winner. Alena Prochazkova of Slovakia became bronze medalist of the race.
“For me this is sort of a training for the coming winter season. I am very satisfied with my results. I have noticed that both skiers and roller skiers have very friendly atmosphere in the teams. Maybe this is because we are using team tactics and work close together. Winner was keeping behind our backs almost all the race. It is windy today so you have to deal with wind resistance if you are ahead. It is easier to hide behind someone’s back. Still this is sport, the strongest wins. Now I plan to go home and have some rest. My son goes to school in a few days. And then we have a training session before the National Championships”,— said Evgeniya Shapovalova.
1. Lisa Bolzan 28:40.5
2. Evgeniya Shapovalova +1.0
3. Alena Prochazkova +1.4
Skier from Khanty-Mansiysk Elizaveta Daybova was leading among junior women almost all the race but didn’t manage to keep the high tempo till the finish. After 10 kilometers the leader changed and the contenders for the medals started to run away from the main group. Second gold medal of mass-start was won by another Italian athlete Laura Mortagna. Russian Mariya Popova and Polina Bolshakova finished second and third respectivery.
At finish atheletes were not able to hide their emotions. Alba Mortagna, who finished fifth, was so happy for her sister that she had tears of happiness in her eyes.
«I am so happy, it is unbelievable. — said the winner of junior women’s mass-start. — I have so many emotions, the biggest one is happiness. It was hard today but I tried and it worked. I love this track, it is hard, but perfect for my characteristics».
«I was competing in mass-start for the first time in my life. I like the tactics of the race, it was interesting. I started practicing speed roller skiing about three years ago. It is very exciting but dangerous sport», — said Polina Bolshakova after the race.
1. Laura Mortagna (ITA) 30:19.8
2. Mariya Popova (RUS) +1.5
3. Polina Bolshakova (RUS) +6.0
Johan Ekberg of Sweden, who won two gold medals in the previous races in Khanty-Mansiysk, from the very first meters of the race tried to run away from competitors. However, this try was stopped by Matvey Prokopiev of Russia who caught up with the leader on the second lap and even managed to overcome Ekberg.
The leaders continued to run in a group until the last meters of the distance. 200 meters before the finish line Ekberg pushed ahead, proving once again that he is the best in finish spurts. Leonid Markov finished second 0,4 sec back the leader, Matvey Prokopiev became a bronze medalist. It is worth noting that athletes crossed the finish line in the same order in pursuit two days ago.
Johan Ekberg confessed that his third gold was not so easy to get: «There’s no secret, I just train hard. When I came here I felt my body a bit tired, not like it was during the World Championships. It was a tough race today. It was a bit unnecessary to try to break away from the group, but it was fun to try and then I had to wait for the finish. This uphill in the end was certainly an advantage for me, but I was not on the good side and that means a really tough finish. But I am glad I managed to do it».
1. Johan Ekberg (SWE) 37:50.7
2. Leonid Markov (RUS) +0.4
3. Matvey Prokopiev (RUS) +1.9
The start of men’s race was less passionate then junior’s. The peloton made of experienced skiers was slower on the first lap of the distance. Athletes demonstrated all their strength and speed on the last lap.
Italian team showed an excellent team work and strategy during the first five kilometres of the race. They put Michael Galassi ahead of the main group while the others started to restrain the competitors. Still it didn’t last long, in just 2 kilometres Victor Gustafsson of Sweden managed to break ahead together with his team mates.
Finish of the men’s mass-start was very unpredictable. Seven athletes crossed the finish line within 1 second. Ivan Anisimov of Russia was the first. Silver medal was won by norwegian Ragnar Bragvin Andresen , while Matteo Tanel was the third.
Ivan Anisimov shared his emotions about the race and the entire World Cup leg: «This was a very dynamic race. I must confess, I didn’t realize it was the last lap till it started. I thought we have a few more laps to run, so I just enjoyed the process. But when I was told this was the last lap, I tried to keep closer to the yellow bib of Gustafsson as he is the world champion in this discipline. Khanty-Mansiysk knows how to host world-class sport events, all athletes are saying so. I hope that next year the Roller Ski World Championships will be held here, and we will be competing on our homeland».
1. Ivan Anisimov (RUS) 37:18.8
2. Ragnar Bragvin Andresen (NOR) +0.1
3. Matteo Tanel (ITA) +0.2
The ceremony of awarding winners of mass-start was attended by the Governor of Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region Natalia Komarova accompanied by the legends of cross-country skiing of the past. Among them was the president of Russian Cross-country Skiing Federation, 14-time world champion Yelena Vyalbe. «I am more lucky than athletes yesterday, because the weather is much better now. Still this is an outdoor sport, so we are used to everything. We have such wonderful competitions. I’ve heard so many good comments about Khanty-Mansiysk, including the opinion of the chairman of the FIS Roller Skiing Committee this year and a year ago. This is such a nice city and we are ready to come back here again and again. Khanty-Mansiysk is 100% ready to host Roller Ski World Championship. I am sure it will be even more successful than a World Cup leg”, — said the President of Russian Cross-country Skiing Federation.
Four competition days, 12 sets of medals, hundreds of sport fans and thousands of emotions – that is how we can describe the Roller Ski World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. See you again next year!