The first stage of the Commonwealth Cup in biathlon on roller skiing ended on Sunday, September 10, with races from the general start. Amazingly, this time both men and women did not have the necessary 30 people for the distance. As Anton Babikov joked, everyone brings themselves to the main tournament of the season - the Spartakiad in Zlatoust.

"In general, I wonder why 28 people came out, if we only have 15 strong guys in the national team? Where are you preparing? My question is: to what? I understand that there are athletes like Alexander Loginov who have not competed for six months before. There are those who are sick and cannot run, but everyone else, in my opinion, should go to the start. Here it was generally about a big mass start, and in the end we did not recruit people for the usual one, "Match TV quotes Babikov as saying.

Nevertheless, even in such a truncated composition, the biathletes managed to please the fans. A fierce struggle again unfolded between Eduard Latypov and Anton Smolsky. They didn't start the race very well, but even with one penalty after the first shooting, both were only 16 seconds away from the intermediate leader, Alexander Koshin. The Belarusian was not in a hurry on the lap, so the athletes came to the second lying down in a large group.

As if wanting to give others a head start, Eduard and Anton again missed once, and at the distance they again found themselves in the role of catching up, this time Roman Surnev. The Russian tried to run on an equal footing with his fastest colleagues on the track, but this came back to haunt him with three misses on the rack. Latypov, on the contrary, decided not to arrange a spurt and went through the circle only with the eighth speed: as a result, five closed targets. He left the stadium in tandem with Dmitry Lazovsky, who, unlike his opponent, did not smear at all until the fourth firing line. The pursuit of biathletes was led by Smolsky, who also finally worked cleanly, but a little behind in progress.

Alas, the last stance again let Edward down. This time, however, he made a mistake not with the fifth, but with the fourth shot. While the Russian ran the penalty circle, Anton quickly closed all the targets and went to the distance as the leader. Latypov was 14.1 seconds behind him. In the final segment, the Belarusian was 8.7 seconds slower than his opponent, however, he managed to keep the first position, and the three-time bronze medalist of the Games in Beijing was content with another silver.

At the same time, in general, Latypov was pleased with his performance in Sochi. According to him, this start became a kind of control section and showed what you need to pay attention to in further preparation.

"If you look at the summer starts, the same Johannes Bo often fails them. Not to say that he lacks experience. But in the summer, other people often win. He is often far away at these starts. All the same, the athlete needs to run away. It's like with physical fitness. It comes gradually," Eduard said in an interview with Sport-Express.

For bronze, a struggle unfolded between two Belarusians - Ilya Avseenko and Lazovsky, who missed and could no longer intervene in the showdown between Latypov and Smolsky. He went the distance before his colleague on the national team. However, the opponent turned out to be stronger and won seven seconds against the more titled biathlete at the finish.

In the women's mass start, the duo of leaders was formed after the first shooting: Irina Kazakevich and Anastasia Goreeva clearly worked out at the turn and had a comfortable advantage from the closest pursuer, Ksenia Dovgaya.

On the next lying down, Mikhail Shashilov's ward faltered, and went to the penalty circle, while her opponent went alone to the distance. The gap between Nastya and Larisa Kuklina, Dovgay and Kazakevich increased to 23 seconds.

On the rack, Goreeva gave her rivals a chance to get around herself, making two mistakes at once. However, the girls did not take advantage of the gift, also not closing all the targets. The misfires of the leaders made it possible to catch up with the group of Victoria Slivko and Natalia Shevchenko, who were not ideal before.

Anastasia again approached the last firing line alone. This time, the athlete coped with emotions and worked cleanly, removing the question of the winner of the race.

"Even at the shooting, I felt that I could fight for medals. There was good health and quite good shooting. I understood how to work with this wind, so I knew right away: everything will work out. But two standing fines are, of course, superfluous. I guess I'm wound up. The first installation is always so insidious. I thought that there should be no wind and switched off, went into the race, was not at the shooting. And it was a mistake, as well as in the pursuit," admitted Goreeva.

Following Anastasia, four Russians rolled out to the shooting range (Dovgaya lagged behind the group), in which Slivko turned out to be the most cold-blooded. Only she was able to close five targets. Shevchenko and Kuklina rushed in pursuit of her, entering the penalty circle. Kazakevich, on the other hand, missed twice and deprived herself of a chance for medals.

Silver in the race was supposed to go to the leader of the overall standings of the Commonwealth Cup. Victoria had a gap of more than 15 seconds from her pursuers, however, as it turned out, it was not a problem for the former skier Shevchenko to win back such a gap. She was behind Slivko already at around 9.3 km, and then on the descent rolled and overtook her opponent.

As Natalia admitted after the finish, she will set much higher goals for herself for the upcoming season. After all, now she already feels more comfortable on the borders.

"I already understand that I can perform at the level of experienced biathletes, fight with them. First of all, go through the season as smoothly as possible, without diseases. God forbid, some injuries. It is clear that the main starts are the Spartakiad of the strongest and the Russian championship at the end of the season. In principle, the result in the top 6 in each race would be perfect. I will try," Shevchenko said.