Russian skiers continue to determine the strongest at the Championship Heights tournament, which is an alternative to the World Championship.

On Saturday, the girls came to the track in Malinovka after a day of rest.

They, like the men the day before, had to perform in one of the most interesting ski races - a skiathlon for 15 kilometers.

The peculiarity of this type of program is that the athletes first overcome the distance in the classical style, and then in the skate style.

The favorite of the race, as well as everyone else, was the owner of the Big Crystal Globe Natalya Nepryaeva.

The Olympic relay champion Veronika Stepanova promised to fight for the victory.

Yuliya Stupak pleasantly surprised the coaches with her desire to compete, because she had not participated in distance races for a long time and it is not yet clear what condition she is in.

Still, the representative of the Komi Republic did not have enough strength for all 15 kilometers: the first half of the distance she kept in the general group, but after changing skis, she slowly began to lag behind and eventually finished only 14th.

Stepanova completely disappointed both fans and specialists.

Veronica lost more than forty seconds to the leaders during the classical part and could not fix anything with the skate.

She finished one and a half minutes after the winner and was only on the 11th line.

And the main competitor of Nepryaeva on the track was Maria Istomina, with whom Natalya trains in the group of Yuri Borodavko and jointly conducts training camps.

Both girls from the very start led the leading group, which was quite large until the change of skis.

10 athletes came to the stadium at the same time.

However, it was the Olympic champion who was the first to cope with the equipment and, due to this, created a small gap for herself from her pursuers.

Nevertheless, it was not possible to escape from them, as Bolshunov had done the day before.

Skiers, led by Istomina, quickly caught up with her.

Although the group became smaller, four more girls withstood the speed of Nepryaeva: together with Maria, Ekaterina Smirnova, Anastasia Kuleshova and Anastasia Prokofieva continued to fight.

In such a company, the girls rode until the last lap.

Moreover, Natalia was in no hurry to come forward, preferring to rest behind her rivals.

After taking a breath, she increased the pace in the last kilometers.

As a result, the group of leaders turned into a trio of Nepryaev, Istomin, Kuleshov.

And then a duet.

Anastasia, on the way to the finish line, was still 11 seconds behind Borodavko's wards.

And the winner of the skiathlon was already determined at the stadium.

Natalia managed to make a small gap for herself when entering the last straight, which was enough for a golden double in the tournament.

Previously, the Olympic champion won the sprint.

Istomina won silver.

And this can also be called a good result for an athlete who has just recovered from an injury.

As the skier said after the start, in early January she had a minor operation. 

“Yuri Viktorovich told us: Masha, Natasha, let's do it once and for all the money.

So they did.

I tried to escape to the first rise, where we gave a small clearance.

And on the extreme rise, she was tuned to work it out completely.

The distance speed is good, I can go, but I didn’t succeed in a jerk ... Silver is good.

Maybe something failed, but the result is excellent.

I wrestled with Natasha, wrestled at the finish line.

Well, of course, if I made her even more competition, ”Istomina explained on Match TV.

At the same time, according to the athlete, she does not have a “Nepryaeva complex”, since they train together and Maria sees how difficult it is for an Olympic champion to be on the track.

“Sometimes I compete with her, I beat her.

I understand that Natasha is one of the leaders, you will have to fight 100% with her, and I'm getting ready for it.

Today there was a thought: I can win.

I wanted to, but it just didn't work out.

It's her own fault - somewhere she didn't work, probably.

You have to look, listen to what the coach will say, ”Istomina added.

As it turned out, Nepryaeva really did not go so easily for 15 kilometers of the skiathlon.

According to the skier, tactically she had to try to make a break both on the classics and on the skate, but everything went wrong.

“The speed of Istomina?

It wasn't unexpected.

Together we held a gathering in Sochi, saw her condition, how she worked.

But, to be honest, I thought today would be easier, somehow very hard.

The girls showed that they are also very well prepared, and we had to work together to the finish line," Natalya admitted.

Borodavko, in turn, noted that he expected a good performance from his girls.

According to the expert, competition in women's competitions in Russia is gradually growing.