Bolshunov against all of Norway
The composition of the Russian national team for men's skiathlon was fraught with a little intrigue.
The participation of Alexander Bolshunov and Ivan Yakimushkin in the 30 km race did not raise any questions.
To them, the coaches also added the specialist of the classic move Alexander Chervotkin.
Evgeny Belov and Denis Spitsov argued for the last position.
As a result, Elena Vyalbe, the president of the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Federation, chose the more experienced Belov by her decision, and promised Spitsova to participate in the next starts.
The Norwegians had no problems with the choice of the squad.
Due to the fact that Schür Röthe had a personal quota as the reigning champion, three strong distancers could be entered in skiathlon: Hans Holund, Simen Kruger and Emil Iversen, as well as two-time world sprint champion Johannes Klebo.
It was he who could be called the main rival of Bolshunov, but on condition that he gets to the finish line with the leading group, and does not lag behind somewhere at a 30-kilometer distance.
The first rounds of the men's race passed without noticeable events.
The peloton was led by Chervotkin, Bolshunov, Iversen, and sometimes another master of the classical style, the Finn Iivo Niskanen.
Klebo ran after Bolshunov all the time.
Over time, Chervotkin slowed down and found himself in the depths of the peloton.
Yakimushkin, however, was invisible all this time and ran at the end of the main group, which numbered about 30 skiers by the tenth kilometer.
In the last third of the classical part, Bolshunov went into the lead, but Iversen and Niskanen followed him.
Klebo, with some lag, joined in the pursuit, several more skiers followed his example.
They managed to catch up with Bolshunov, and at the same time to reduce the leading group.
In it, the Norwegians remained in full force, and the Russians suffered the first loss - Belov lagged behind even before changing skis.
The ridge part of the distance continued to cut off skiers from the main group.
In addition to Chervotkin and Niskanen, Yakimushkin broke away from her.
Gradually, Bolshunov was left alone against five Norwegians and Briton Andrew Musgrave, who trains in Norway and even won the championship of this country.
Only one more spurt could help the Russian to win gold, and he had to choose the perfect moment in order to escape from his rivals.
Until then, he carried them without interruption on his back.
This moment came at the 24th kilometer.
When Musgrave lagged behind the top six, Bolshunov began to accelerate.
Klebo and Iversen, two of the strongest sprinters in this group, could not stand the rise and lagged noticeably behind.
According to their movements, it seemed that they would no longer be involved in the struggle again, but on the descent the athletes were able to return to their compatriots.
Another acceleration of the Russian cut off not only Klebo and Iversen, but also Ryte.
Bolshunov, who had lost his leadership by that time, ran after Holund, and Kruger rushed to the finish line after them.
Sometimes Holund created a small gap, but on the downhill skis worked better for the two-time World Cup winner.
At the stadium, where Bolshunov fought for medals in the sprint, only he could claim victory.
The 24-year-old skier, who collected four silver medals two years ago, has finally won his first gold in his career.
Bolshunov - World Champion 🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺
Catch San Sanych's incredible finish.
How did he deal with the Norwegians in the ending 💪
This is just legendary 👏 pic.twitter.com/i8Rt1PfhCp
- Match TV (@MatchTV) February 27, 2021
Kruger finished second - the two-time Olympic champion won the first medal at the world championships.
The third place was taken by Kholund.
Klebo won only a dispute for fourth place with Iversen.
Yakimushkin was able to gather for the second half of the distance and finished eighth, leaving the entire peloton behind him.
Chervotkin finished 18th and Belov showed 23rd time.
Another gold Johaug
A similar women's race took place before the men's skiathlon.
Russia was represented by Natalia Nepryaeva, Yulia Stupak, Tatiana Sorina and Yana Kirpichenko.
In certain hands, everyone could have chances for silver or bronze, but not for gold - the Norwegian Teresa Johaug claimed it.
From the very beginning of the race, Johaug began to stretch the peloton into a long line.
Young Swedes Ebba Andersson and Frida Karlsson, as well as Sorina, were closest to the Norwegian.
True, on the descent, the Russian woman let go of the Scandinavians - even in the sprint it was noticeable that this part of the distance was given to her much worse.
At the same time, the gap from other skiers was quite noticeable.
When they first appeared at the stadium, the Scandinavian trio suddenly fell apart.
Karlsson tried to get around Johaug, but she did not notice her rival and ran into her ski.
The Swede fell, dragging the Norwegian with her.
Andersson was able to bypass both of them, and only Sorina remained behind her.
As a result of the fall, Karlsson broke a stick and was unable to quickly get a new inventory, which is why she had to return to the peloton.
Johaug was more fortunate, and she was able to quickly overtake Andersson and Sorina, who were 12 seconds ahead of the general group.
It was hard for the Russian woman to stay in the top three.
If in the ascent she could still quickly eliminate the lag that arose, then on the descent she let her rivals go far ahead.
Gradually, Carlsson joined in pursuit of Sorina, as well as experienced Swede Charlotte Kalla, Austrian Teresa Stadlober and Russian Yana Kirpichenko, whom it was unusual to see in such a strong company.
Before the pit stop, Karlsson caught up with Sorina and denied talk that it would be impossible to catch up on the broken track of Oberstdorf.
They almost simultaneously changed skis from classic to skating.
Kirpichenko let Kalla and Stadlober go a little, and other Russian skiers - Natalya Nepryaeva and Yulia Stupak - had already lost more than half a minute to the first four.
When it was time to skate, Sorina began to lose even more to her pursuers.
Gradually, she skipped ahead of Karlsson, Stadlober and Kalla.
Kirpichenko could already be next, pulling a large group of skiers.
In the end, Sorina joined them, and for the Russian team, sixth place became the ultimate dream in this race.
Throughout the last 7.5 km, Johaug increased her lead over Andersson and finished in splendid isolation.
She became an 11-time world champion and equaled the number of titles with Larisa Lazutina.
Two Swedes fought behind her, and Karlsson took the upper hand, preferring to run in a skating style.
Third place went to Andersson, who won her first World Cup personal medal.
🇸🇪 Frida Karlsson demolished 🇧🇻 Teresa Johaug at the very beginning of the race, but this did not stop the Norwegian from winning.
- Eurosport.ru (@Eurosport_RU) February 27, 2021
The best result among Russian women was shown by Sorina, who became the eighth.
Kirpichenko is located in the final protocol two more lines below.
The peloton finished behind them, and Stupak showed the best acceleration in it.
Nepryaeva took 16th place.
Although the Russian skiers were left without medals, their performance was encouraging before the team sprint and relay race - they looked much better against the background of other national teams, with the exception of Norway and Sweden.