The second stage of the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Cup started in Tyumen. On the first day of the competition, 10 km freestyle races were held.

Traditionally, the girls were the first to enter the track, whose starting application consisted of 116 athletes. Among the first sixty participants, the best start was shown by Muscovite Ekaterina Evtyagina, who was then squeezed out by Belarusian Anna Koroleva. The 25-year-old skier was leading the race for a long time: Ekaterina Smirnova and Elizaveta Pantrina, who started later, could not get ahead of her.

It seemed that Daria Nepryaeva would be able to squeeze the guest, who demonstrated excellent speed from the start and at the 1.3 km mark beat Koroleva by almost 1.5 seconds. However, the younger sister of the Olympic champion Natalia Terentyeva, who is still recovering from injury, failed to maintain a high pace. After 1.7 km, Yuri Borodavko's ward was inferior not only to the Belarusian, but also to Evtyagina and Lydia Gorbunova. As a result, Daria finished only 18th.

A little later, Maria Istomina, Ekaterina Krupitskaya and Anastasia Kuleshova started Nepryaeva. All of them began to slowly and gradually increase the pace, trying not to yield to each other. Coaches guided the athletes along the distance, promptly reporting information about breakaways. At first, Krupitskaya was in the lead, but she also ran out of steam by the middle and allowed Istomina to surpass her performance. In the most advantageous position was Kuleshova, who was behind both rivals. At the finish, she attacked Maria's result, but still lost to her by 1.4 seconds.

Veronika Stepanova was the last to enter the distance and quite calmly overcame it with an excellent margin of 18.3 and 19.7 seconds compared to the owners of the second and third places. Koroleva was one step away from the podium, losing 29 seconds. After the race, the Beijing Olympic champion noted that she went to the start with an unwavering attitude to win, and also thanked her rivals for fighting.

"The lap is not easy, here I could not run away from my rivals for a long time, for which I am very grateful to them, they kept me in good shape and did not allow me to "reach" the track calmly," the skier said on the air of Match TV.

But the president of the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Federation Elena Vyalbe, on the contrary, complained about the lack of worthy competitors for Stepanova, and also expressed the opinion that the athlete did not run at full strength.

"Natalia Terentyeva, who has not yet recovered from all her illnesses, can compete with her. And now Veronika is a leader, it's good, people will follow her. The only thing seems to be that for the "ten" 18 seconds advantage over Istomina and 19 over Kuleshova is very little for Veronika. I could hear out of the corner of my ear that she was joking, as if she had almost fallen asleep. She is clearly relaxed here, because she has no competitors," Vyalbe was quoted as saying by Championat.

In turn, the skier's coach Yegor Sorin noted that the race was more difficult for his ward than it seemed from the outside. According to him, "relaxed" is just a joke, but in fact Veronika had to fight until the last lap, as it is not easy for her to acclimatize after the Top of Tøya.

It was interesting to watch the men's race, because if for women the "ten" from the time trial is quite familiar, then for men it is still a novelty, since only at the end of last season there was a "gender" equalization of distances on the part of the FIS. However, this race has long been in use at the Cup of Khakassia, but few people perceived it as a competitive one - they ran as a training and preparation for the main starts.

Now, after the approval of equalized distances by the International Olympic Committee, everyone has to rebuild. As athletes noted on the eve of the race, the insidiousness of the shortened time trial is that it is extremely difficult to win back the seconds lost at the start.

This, probably, played a cruel joke with Saveliy Korostelev, who showed only the eighth time at the 1.3 km split. However, by the middle of the distance, the two-time bronze medalist of the Beijing Olympics fell to 0th place and dropped out of the fight for medals, while his teammate was in the lead. However, there was nothing to oppose Alexander Bolshunov to Maltsev – he lost 7.25 seconds to him in 5 km. At the same time, the native of the Bryansk region became a steam locomotive for Korostelev: Alexander, who started immediately after Saveliy, easily caught up with him, and the skiers went neck and neck until the finish line, alternately coming forward. This, accordingly, allowed the young skier to reduce the gap from Maltsev. At the same time, the coaches, as Artyom himself admitted after the finish, did not warn him about the attack, but guided Andrey Melnichenko and Ivan Gorbunov, whom he confidently outpaced.

It was fraught, but the rising star of Russian skiing still did not have enough distance to catch up with his opponent. As a result, Korostelev won bronze, and the entire podium in Tyumen exactly repeated the result of the usual 15-kilometer time trial at the Tyoya Peak.

So far, Bolshunov has not given his rivals a single chance to win, despite the fact that he has recently recovered from a back injury. However, domestic skiers do not have any complexes in this regard. On the contrary, such rivalry only spurs you to work better. Thus, Maltsev expressed the opinion that it is possible to defeat the three-time Olympic champion.

"He's a human being, not a robot. Everything is possible, we will try. The season is just beginning. Bolshunov is a leader in the world and, of course, a reference point. The king of skiing, the Olympic champion. There is someone to look up to and where to grow," said the silver medalist of the stage.