The Russian Biathlon Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk continued on Tuesday with tributes. Unexpected results in the sprint the day before promised fans an interesting struggle. At the same time, the participants of the tournament were again waiting for a difficult race from a physical point of view: due to the plus temperature, the snow became loose and it was necessary to spend more effort to overcome the distance by default. However, as it turned out, shooting caused much more problems to all participants. At least for men. The top three made a total of nine misses, which, of course, is a lot given the not-so-windy weather.
The first to go to the track with an interval of 10 seconds from each other were the winner and prize-winners of the sprint Nikita Porshnev, Daniil Serokhvostov and Eduard Latypov. The athletes approached the shooting range in one group. But in such a company, they did not manage to leave the stadium. The speed gained played a cruel joke with the pursuers. They synchronously made two mistakes, while the representative of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug worked the bed cleanly and ran alone to the distance.
"We caught up with Nikita, so I tried to take risks. I knew if I could shoot fast, and I thought I would definitely have a big advantage, and then I would go at my own pace. A little, of course, self-confidence let me down, "Latypov admitted.
On the second shooting, Porshnev made one mistake, but Serokhvostov and Latypov did not take advantage of the chance, missing two and once, respectively. As a result, Nikita received a huge advantage almost a minute, which remained to be competently disposed of on the remaining firing lines. However, it was not so simple. On the first rack, the biathlete did not close three targets at once and lost his leadership. According to Nikita, he was let down by vision problems.
"In the eye today I ran like a bunny. I tried to wash it before the start, but nothing helped. I was lucky that I was lying down to shoot normally, because on the rack I could not aim normally, control the target. I don't know why. This was the first time I had this," the athlete said.
At the same time, five pursuers worked cleanly, and mixed all the cards before the final shooting. Latypov was the first to leave the stadium, followed by a dense group of Serokhvostov, Kirill Bazhin, Maxim Tsvetkov and Anton Smolsky. After three laps of the penalty, Piston was 24 seconds behind the leader.
Equally unpredictable was the second rack. Eduard made a standard mistake for himself: he closed three targets, then made a big pause and missed the fourth shot. However, for the fifth time, he was accurate and kept his chances on the podium. Moreover, the main competitor on the track Serokhvostov went to two penalty laps.
As a result, Latypov went to the distance in the company of Tsvetkov and Porshnev, who worked cleanly and was able to significantly improve the situation after the failure on the third line. It seemed that the leader of the Russian national team would immediately go into a breakaway, since the move looked better than his rivals, but it was not Eduard who tried to escape, but Nikita. He began to work actively and created a small gap.
However, he failed to develop or maintain the advantage. the laggards at first rolled a kilometer before the finish and rolled out into the stadium side by side. However, Latypov has already rolled out ahead of Porshnev at the stadium. Tsvetkov, too, seemed ready to intervene in the fight for gold, but he was unlucky. After coming out of the last corner, Maxim was not in the most advantageous position for the attack and simply did not have the opportunity for maneuver.
At the finish line, Nikita tried to make another breakthrough, but Eduard was already in full control of the situation and was the first to cross the line. As Porshnev explained after the race, his plan didn't work.
"Before that, I didn't run at full strength, I wanted to give it my all on the last lap and demonstrate good speed. But then I saw that Latypov drove up to me, he worked hard in the climb and at the finish too, so [I have] second place. I expected that when I pulled away, no one would approach me on the descent. But today it did not work out that way," the biathlete said in an interview with Match TV.
At the same time, Latypov, as it turned out, did not have any plan for the last lap, since he did not understand in what physical condition the opponents were.
"I wasn't fresh myself, so I didn't invent anything. Probably, the plan was to be patient, and then only give the ending. But Nikita intervened, he made an unrealistic break on the first and second climbs, my task was just to keep this small distance, and in the area where I am stronger, to approach him. Basically, that's how it turned out. Today it was hard to fight on such a track, loose snow, soft, hard to finish the spurt to do. Therefore, it was necessary to create a reserve immediately, "explained Eduard.
Tsvetkov eventually finished third. He tried to catch up with Serokhvostov, who developed the highest speed on the final lap among the other biathletes: he overcame 2.5 kilometers in 5 minutes and 54 seconds. But Maxim also significantly increased compared to the previous distance, leaving no chance for the pursuer.
"I tried to start the last lap a little calmer, because I knew that my skis work a little worse on this part than the guys. I let them go a bit and was able to get closer to the finish line. Of course, third place in such competition is a very good result. A good fight was shown today," Tsvetkov said.
The women's race should have turned out to be no less unpredictable, since the victory in the sprint was won by the former skier Natalia Shevchenko, who spends her first season in biathlon. And no one expected a golden double from her. Because this time it was necessary to shoot four times, which, of course, is much more difficult. In addition, the wind picked up at the stadium.
However, the gap of the young athlete from the second and third places was much more significant than that of Porshnev: 36 seconds - from Anastasia Egorova and a little more than a minute - from Anastasia Goreeva. So Shevchenko could even afford to make a couple of mistakes.
However, Natalia did not plan to make mistakes. On the first lap, she ran away from her pursuers a little more, and on the couch she calmly closed all the targets. Goreeva worked just as reliably, moving to second place, ahead of Egorova. The latter was forced to go for one penalty lap.
On the second shooting, Shevchenko was lucky: the fifth target barely closed, but still closed. And the athlete still with the same advantage in a minute went to the distance. And the main pursuer of the leader was Already Ekaterina Noskova, who had previously won silver at the Russian Cross-Country Ski Championships. She started the race tenth, with a gap of 1 minute and 43 seconds. But twice she worked without errors on the firing lines and moved to the second line. She left the stadium with Goreeva.
On the counter, Shevchenko again showed incredible endurance: she calmly closed all the targets and further increased the gap from the pursuers, who could not cope with the tension. Both went to one penalty lap and almost deprived themselves of the chance to compete for gold.
And on the fourth shooting, Natalia put a fat point in the race. She could not create a miracle and again work "to zero". However, she made a mistake only once and ran away from the stadium even before her rivals started shooting.
"I walked with a big advantage, so before the firing lines I tried to slow down, breathe, so that I could calmly practice shooting and nothing bothered me. In the end, everything went smoothly. The stock was both relaxing and straining. I wanted to do four zeros, but not today. This is an incentive for the future," Shevchenko admitted at the finish.
Goreeva and Noskova already understood: they were fighting with each other for silver. And that excitement took its toll again. Both went to two penalty laps, giving hope for awards to Svetlana Kuklina and Victoria Slivko.
"It was a bit exciting. I understood that Nastya and I were fighting, and the other girls were close. I tried to concentrate on my shooting, but I couldn't. I heard and saw how Goreeva works. And the fact that I could not disconnect from my rivals prevented me, "Noskova admitted.
The girls went to the last lap in four. In this company, Ekaterina was considered the clear favorite, which the athlete proved on the track. She immediately turned on the speed, rolled on her rivals and calmly ran away from them.
"I saw my rivals and thought, well, again, I will have to run at the maximum at the finish. I've had a few races like that this season. I had to repeat it again," the biathlete said.
Slivko closed the top three, she tried in vain to hold on to Noskova, but at the same time she left the others, they could not cope with the set pace.
"When I left for the last lap, I understood: you need to run away from Kuklina immediately, not wait. Other girls were approaching, but I had seen Katya and Nastya ahead of me before and noticed: The grief race is going hard. Therefore, I expected that only Noskova would catch up with me. And that's exactly what happened. I tried to get hooked. But her ski glide was steeper. I was even more behind on the descents than on the climbs. I resisted. I'm glad I was able to hold on. I, it turns out, am the third for two skiers, "Slivko joked.