In the sprint at the second stage of the Russian Cup, attention was focused primarily on two athletes: Anastasia Faleeva, the winner in a similar discipline in the Top of Tyoya, as well as Veronika Stepanova, who has already won three gold medals this season. In the prologue, the athlete from St. Petersburg confirmed her claims to the title of favorite, showing the best time among 105 participants. The Beijing Olympic champion lost 3.59 seconds to her, and also let Anastasia Kirillova go ahead. However, after the qualification, Stepanova announced that she would not compete further.

"I don't feel the strength to fight for victory, I will prepare for the top twenty. Elena Vyalbe said yesterday that I should win 30 seconds from second place, but I'm sorry, I won't win that much in the sprint. Therefore, they will continue without me," the athlete commented on the decision with humor on the air of Match TV.

In her quarterfinals, Stepanova had to compete with Yulia Stupak, who entered the start of this CR for the first time. In the prologue, Yegor Sorin's ward showed that she was in good shape, taking eighth place, and then confidently won the race. But she also did not continue to fight for awards, as well as her teammate. Subsequently, the skier explained that this decision had nothing to do with her well-being and was made even before the start of qualifying.

"The best training is competitions, so Egor Vladimirovich and I decided to start today twice to work out," Stupak said.

The athlete will miss the next stage of the National Cup in Chusovoy completely, and plans to start full-fledged performances from the fourth stage in Kirovo-Chepetsk.

A pleasant surprise was the performance of Olga Yakimushkina, who is just returning to the sport after the birth of a child. The skier started with the number 108 in the prologue, but this did not prevent her from breaking into the top ten, and in the quarterfinals she became second after Faleeva. The athlete imposed a fight in the next round, but at the end of the distance fatigue affected her, and she finished only third.

Yakimushkina also failed to take a place in the decisive round as a lucky loser, as in the parallel race the girls arranged a real "cut". The victory in it went to Evgenia Krupitskaya, followed by Alyona Baranova, and the two lucky women who qualified in time were Elizaveta Pantrina and Anna Koroleva. It is noteworthy that Kirillova, who showed the second result in the prologue, was left out.

In the final, Faleeva did not allow for a second to doubt that the second sprint gold of the Kyrgyz Republic would also remain with her. She perfectly controlled her opponents, carefully overcame a dangerous turn, which in the previous rounds let many participants down, and on the ascent she secured a solid gap. In the fight for silver, Baranova and Krupitskaya clashed, but the latter was in the role of catching up and did not have time to catch up with her rival at the finish line.

The men's prologue passed without any big surprises. The first result was demonstrated by Alexander Terentyev, who brought 5.31 seconds to Sergey Ardashev and 6.74 seconds to Ivan Bezmaternykh. Alexander Bolshunov lost 10.08 seconds to the leader, which, of course, was somewhat surprising, but not shocking, because everyone knows the ability of the three-time Olympic champion to distribute his forces in the rounds of the competition as correctly as possible.

The first surprise happened in the second quarterfinal, where young Alexander Bakurov won, and his comrade Saveliy Korostelev took third place and finished the performance. The result of the 20-year-old skier was probably affected by the contact with Ivan Gorbunov in the final stretch of the distance. An athlete from Tatarstan staggered while changing lanes on the track and involuntarily made a small hook to Korostelev.

Terentyev also tickled the nerves of the fans, who in the semifinals got into the hustle and bustle on the rise and barely got out of it. Gorbunov, on the other hand, broke his stick in this crowd and finished last. Meanwhile, Dmitry Zhul ran into the breakaway, and Terentyev almost lost to Vladislav Afanasyev at the finish line. The athletes were separated by only 0.05 seconds.

At the semifinal stage, Bolshunov added momentum, especially since Sergey Ardashev and Ivan Bezmaternykh provided him with worthy competition.

In the final, the skiers showed the intensity of the fight, worthy of the World Cup stages, although the beginning of the race was unhurried and measured. But by the middle of the distance, Bolshunov took the lead, followed by Zhul, but both failed to break away from the peloton. Terentyev, meanwhile, climbed to third place, and in the climb completely overtook both Alexander and Dmitry, and Ardashev rushed after him.

However, the two-time bronze medalist of the 2022 Olympic Games did not remain the leader for long. On a short descent before the finish line, he was overtaken by both rivals, and the leader of qualifying was content with only third place. And Ardashev lost only 0.12 seconds to Bolshunov and for the second time this season climbed to the podium. In Khakassia, he was third in the 15-kilometer time trial.