For the second day in a row, Alexander Bolshunov becomes the main newsmaker in the world of cross-country skiing.
After a collision with the Norwegian Hans Holund during Saturday's skiathlon at the KM stage in Lahti, the leader of the national team became a participant in another incident.
In the fight for silver with Yoni Maki at the finish line, the Russian first waved his stick towards the opponent who cut him off, and after crossing the line, he crashed into him.
This led to the disqualification of the team that won the bronze medals.
There was no unequivocal reaction to the incident in the world of cross-country skiing.
On the one hand, the athlete himself admitted the unsportsmanlike maneuver.
On the other hand, the situation itself looked ambiguous.
Mäki's movement and its displacement are not at all similar to random.
In the same car races, they block the opponent's trajectory in the same way with intent - on the verge of provocation.
And the rival's grin, snatched by the operator after falling at the finish line, casts doubt on the status of the innocent victim.
Especially if you remember how many times Bolshunov himself has been tried to provoke and hurt on the track to one degree or another in recent months.
Finally, people who are directly involved in sports and racing in particular are well aware of what the thrill of the fight is, where adrenaline is sometimes off scale.
Hence the tangible difference in the tone of the statements when assessing the situation.
For example, Russian skier Ivan Yakimushkin attributed the incident to the fervor of the athletes aiming for a medal.
“I don’t know what Sanya was thinking, what the Finn was thinking and how it all happened.
But this is the finish line, emotions, this is such adrenaline.
Whatever happens here, whatever people want to do on the track, "the skier said in an interview with Match TV.
The coach of the Russian national skiing team Yegor Sorin, analyzing the episode tactically, pointed out the nuances that cast doubt on the accuracy of the punishment of Bolshunov and the entire Russian national team.
“We are convinced that the Finnish team should definitely be disqualified.
Sasha clearly occupied the right corridor, the Finn began to rebuild.
Of course, he felt it.
There was a ski contact twice, and this brought Sasha to emotions.
What happened after the finish is also being considered, ”the expert said in a televised analysis at the end of the relay.
Tin of the day in skiing!
Bolshunov hit the Finn with a stick twice and was disqualified.
Alexander did not hold back his emotions during the disassembly at the finish line 😡🔥⛔ pic.twitter.com/uqQz2760om
- Eurosport.ru (@Eurosport_RU) January 24, 2021
The coach of the Russian national team, Markus Kramer, fully agreed with his colleague in assessing the Finn's behavior on the track.
“It has been explained many times that if you are ahead, you have to follow the chosen path.
Finn saw that Bolshunov was walking to the right, and after that he began to move closer to the edge.
He made extra efforts to close the door for Bolshunov.
And then this mess began.
We agree that Sasha behaved ugly, and we share the decision of the judges.
But this situation started on the track.
So we do not agree with the judges, ”the specialist emphasized.
The Finnish Mäki's ambiguous choice of trajectory was also noted by the bronze medalist of the 2001 World Cross-Country Championship Sergei Kryanin.
“The home stretch, the influx of emotions - the head turns off, it's all clear.
But Sasha just had to more closely use the rules that exist in cross-country skiing so that we do not have such incidents.
He needed to predict in advance that such a scenario is possible, that opponents will use tactical actions to try to beat him not at the expense of strength.
Finn acted on the verge of a foul, changed positions before entering the corridor, which he still had the right to do.
But, on the other hand, he acted ugly, even violated, as it seemed to me, ”stated Kryanin, speaking with a Sport24 correspondent.
At the same time, Kryanin believes that the referee committee could have limited himself with a yellow card for Bolshunov, and not disqualified him if the compatriot had reacted more calmly to what had happened.
The provocation on the part of the Finn was also noted by the coach of the Russian national ski team Yuri Borodavko.
At the same time, he emphasized that even in such a situation, Bolshunov's behavior was unacceptable.
“Maki behaved unsportsmanlike, jumped on skis, blocked the trajectory.
But Sasha also behaved incorrectly, gave vent to emotions.
So only the Finns would be disqualified, we would get the second and third places.
Let's talk with him, discuss everything.
In any case, no matter what happens, you cannot give vent to emotions so much.
This behavior is unacceptable, "admitted Borodavko in an interview with the Championship.
The specialist was also outraged by the position of the jury, which did not even consider the actions of the Finn.
He expressed doubts about the competence of those who passed the verdict on the results of the race.
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Publication from FIS Cross-Country World Cup (@fiscrosscountry)
In the camp of Russian competitors, polar sentiments reigned.
For example, Yoni Myaki is sure that it is Bolshunov who is to blame for what happened.
“At the finish line I wanted to take the outer path so that he would not have the opportunity to pass me and would have to climb inside.
I think that I have chosen the route in advance, ”said Mäki.
The compatriot was supported by the Olympic champion in cross-country skiing Sami Jauhojärvi, who condemned Bolshunov's aggression.
“This is unacceptable behavior.
An absolutely deserved disqualification.
Myaka had the right to choose a lane.
Bolshunov did not have enough room.
Bolshunov's push after the finish?
The place for such techniques is in hockey, not skiing, ”the athlete insisted in an interview with fellow journalists.
And the Finnish journalist Pekka Holopainen completely explained Bolshunov's maneuvers by the fact that the Russian does not know how to lose.
“Bolshunov’s behavior is not surprising.
We've seen this before.
He doesn't know how to lose at all.
This behavior is extremely unprofessional.
In professional sports, this is unacceptable, the maximum is at a hockey rink, ”the observer concluded.
Eirik Muir Nossum, coach of the Norwegian national ski team, was outraged by Bolshunov's manifestation of intemperance.
“I'm shocked by this behavior.
We have cross-country skiing, not ultimate fighting.
I have never seen anything like this in our sport.
I hope I never see it again.
Attacking people must have consequences.
I hope FIS will take action very quickly, ”said the mentor.
Norwegian skier Emil Iversen described the state of emergency with Bolshunov as humiliation of the Russian national team.
“It's very ugly, ashamed.
Today is going to be a tough day for Russia.
They are humiliated both on the track and outside.
Bolshunov showed himself today.
He now needs to lay low and think about what happened.
I don't think he should be disqualified.
If I were a Finn, I would have stood up and immediately hit Bolshunov in response, ”the athlete said.
The Russian TV commentator Dmitry Guberniev did not justify Bolshunov either, who admitted that the skier's violation was drawn to disqualification.
"What is it?
It's a discal!
Don't do that, Bolshunov!
Sasha, you should be calmer, you are strong, you will still win! "
- wrote the journalist in his Telegram channel.
Russian skier Evgeny Belov, who supported Bolshunov, did not agree with the opinion of the TV commentator.
“I fully support Bolshunov and would have done the same in his place.
I do not agree with the FIS decision to disqualify only the Russian team, the Finns deserved the same.
Time after time, case after case, we see that only Russia is disqualified and punished, and in the future there will only be more such situations.
They will punish the country, but a single Russian person will not allow himself to offend.
If you are deprived of a medal through no fault of yours, and the one who deprived this medal remains innocent, what kind of peace can we talk about?
So, you are just a vegetable, ”the athlete shared his view of the situation in his Instagram.
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Publication from Evgeniy Belov (@_belov_evgeniy_)
Alexander Bolshunov, the elder, also stood up for his son.
The athlete's father believes that the Finn behaved incorrectly on the track.
“How to assess the situation when you enter the finish line, for example, your opponent is in the middle, and you go around him on the right in the lane?
And when you walk on your lane and overtake him, and then he does not just drive you away, but simply pushes you into billboards.
How else can this be regarded?
These are emotions, and yesterday the fall was not just like that.
It's just bestiality, you don't have to endure it!
We need to fight in a fair fight, ”said the father of the current World Cup winner.
In addition, Bolshunov Sr. is sure that if you do not respond to the provocations of rivals, Russian athletes will be vulnerable in the future.
“It used to be much fairer: when you entered the target, you shouldn't cross the path.
And now the first touch was the Finn, he ran over Sasha's skis.
If they do not answer, they will humiliate Russia.
It was all on emotions, I understand him perfectly, it's okay.
For me these are scoundrels - like he did not see and shifted.
He just brazenly removed Sasha from the track and drove him into billboards.
The video shows that Sasha did not touch him first.
I am on the side of my son, maybe I would even have acted more trenchantly, ”Bolshunov Sr. reacted sharply to the incident.
The athlete's father admitted that he would not scold his son for what happened, since he considers his behavior to be a logical reaction to provocation from the opponent.
The official position of the International Federation of Cross-Country Skiing (FIS) on the incident was voiced by Race Director Pierre Miniere.
“When you go first, you can choose the corridor.
The Finnish skier chose the trajectory and did everything right.
Bolshunov also did everything correctly, he could not move to another trajectory.
Bolshunov could overtake an opponent to the finish corridor, but did not have time to do this and was at a disadvantage.
There is definitely nothing to complain about an opponent.
In the next episode, Bolshunov hit his opponent with a stick.
This is not what we want to see from athletes.
This behavior is unacceptable.
Therefore, the punishment was adopted.
Bolshunov's disqualification applies only for today.
If there were races tomorrow, he could participate, ”Miniere said in a TV interview.
Elena Vyalbe, President of the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Federation, in turn, explained why she did not file a protest against the panel's decision to disqualify.
“It doesn't make any sense.
For 15-20 minutes they tried to explain to this jury that they were wrong.
We are already filing an appeal with the rules and control committee.
They have two points.
The first is the behavior of the athlete, for which we are disqualified.
Second, they do not believe that the Finnish athlete has broken the rules.
We absolutely disagree with this situation, we consider it a gross violation of the rules.
It is clear that the athlete is on emotions.
Actually, he didn't hit him.
Beat in the snow with a stick.
Let them watch the video a few more times.
But I just couldn't be there, because I really scream a lot.
I'm afraid I will be disqualified now, too, ”said Vyalbe.