Bolshunov flew past the sprint finale: the young stranger “shot”

Bolshunov flew past the sprint finale: the young stranger “shot”


We summed up the results. The sprint competition of the Russian Cup was won by Anastasia Faleeva (300), the athlete did not reach the sprint final in Kirovsk, finishing third in the first semi-final. Alena Baranova (280) took second place, Elizaveta Pantrina (245) took third place. Among men, the winner of the sprint competition was Alexander Bolshunov (315). Sergey Ardashev (265) took second place, Savely Korostelev took third (213).

Before the sprint final in Kirovsk, at different stages of the selection, something unexpected happened: Alexander Bolshunov and Savely Korostelev dropped out of the fight. Both Alexander Terentyev and Ilya Semikov were outside the top 30… Yes, Olympic champion Denis Spitsov had not yet entered the sprint, he had to fight with a wisdom tooth the night before. In the morning the tooth was removed, but apparently Denis will also have to remove the rest of the mini-tour races from the schedule.

And here’s the picture of the day: “To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed by all of you,” said Dmitry Puzanov, as his colleagues called him, “a comrade from the Khabarovsk Territory,” 18 years old, who sensationally won bronze in an amazing sprint. In which he did not hesitate to leave even Sergei Ustyugov behind. In qualifying for the sprint in Kirovsk, Dmitry was fifth. And then everyone began to carefully remember his skiing experience, which could not be called rich. I took part in the adult summer championship of Russia 2023, took part in the Russian Cup races at the Top of Thea… And that’s it.

In this final of the sprint, it seemed that Sergei Ustyugov began to take the lead; the day before he announced the start of the mini-tour with promising words: “Finally, everything will begin.” But by the finish line there was no more strength left, and Ivan Gorbunov and Sergei Ardashev preferred to find out which of them was stronger, without Ustyugov. Ardashev won.

During the season, Sergei Ardashev breathed down Alexander Bolshunov’s back more than once at the finish line. And he always said: defeating a three-time Olympic medalist is, of course, possible, but… And then the victory happened, only again with a “but”, without Bolshunov. It’s a pity that we didn’t agree on a face-to-face debate.

And the final for Ardashev, according to him, looked like this: after everyone rushed from the start, after 200-300 meters he no longer had the strength, “I thought I wouldn’t be able to fight for high positions.” But I understood that the pace would be slowed down, so I sat behind the leaders. And then – “I had a good finish today, I’m surprised that I had such finishes.” Although my health in Kirovsk turned out to be not very good: “it was as if I had been thrown to a height of 2000 meters (although the height was 400 meters), so I became sour.”

The winner did not call the absence of Bolshunov and Korostelev an easier race; there are plenty of rivals: the same Sergei Ustyugov or Ivan Gorbunov, “the country’s second leg in the Russian Championship.” So it was all a sprint in the fight. And about Puzanov’s unexpected appearance at the finish line, Sergei Ardashev said honestly: “I don’t even know who he is.”

Ivan Gorbunov, the one who was closest to defeating Bolshunov in the head-to-head meeting of the Russian Championship (lost 0.11 seconds to Alexander in the skate sprint at the Russian Ski Championship in Malinovka), of course, was upset, again second. But he thanked everyone who participated in his preparation for the season and admitted that he had already reached the finals with moral strength. Because I “spent” a lot in the heats before the final, I was in the lead, I was stretching, and by the final I already felt that I probably shouldn’t have pushed myself so hard in the heats earlier. But – “there is a medal and there is something to strive for next year.”

…And the one who was not shy in the sprint final, it turns out, was watching the girls until the final. Nothing personal, only professional: “You had to watch how you left the descent to draw conclusions.” And in general, Dmitry Puzanov did not expect to reach the finals or get into the top three. For him, every race was like a final. “In the quarterfinals I didn’t have any plan, the guys started to slow down, I thought: “Why not screw it up?” And in the semi-finals he thought that it was not worth going forward… Each race has its own thoughts.

We’re going uphill

In addition to the freestyle sprint, the mini-tour program includes freestyle pursuit races, classic style time trial races and a 10 km uphill freestyle mass start for men and women.

This mountain, which has not yet been taken by skiers, is called Aykuaivenchorr. Directories indicate that the mountain in the Khibiny Mountains is 1075 meters high, and it’s worth climbing to the top for incredible views. Of course, everyone already remembers the famous “Tour de Ski” with its assault on the famous Alpe de Cermis peak. And they compare: Aykuayvenchorr – total elevation gain of 580 m, elevation gain on the slope – 460 m. And Alpe de Cermis – 495 m and 420 m, respectively. Now all that remains is to compare the ascents themselves.

Russian national team coach Egor Sorin and assistant technical delegate of the Russian Cup final Vyacheslav Vedenin have already tested the climb: “It will be difficult, but very interesting!” The ascent will become the final point of the Russian Cup. The length of the final climb is 2.3 km. Experts estimate that the ascent will take about 40 minutes.

Thanks for the idea to conquer the mountain in the Russian Cup final, it seems I should say… well, yes – Alexander Bolshunov. The Olympic champion himself said that he proposed to Yuri Borodavko to hold a race that, in his opinion, would be different from the standard and rather similar ones. And in Kirovsk there are just all the conditions: to hold a marathon along the gorge, and a ski slope where you can climb and hold a race similar to the final of the Tour de Ski.


Alexander Bolshunov lost the first battle of the mini-tour. What will happen next? Coach Yuri Borodavko collected all the reasons for Alexander’s failure to reach the finals: he could not recover from the illness he had before the Russian Championship; a tactical mistake was made in the semi-finals; Not very good skis did not allow me to rise above third place in the semi-finals.

Bolshunov himself said that he apparently overloaded his body a little. “In the prologue, at the 600-meter mark, I seemed to be in 60th place, although I was running at full strength, but I couldn’t do anything, and then it was better.” Therefore, the conclusion is this: today’s result, given how I feel, is normal.

And how can we not remember what he said before the starts in Kirovsk, answering the question about how 23 victories in the season became possible? “There are all sorts of pains and obstacles. They need to be overcome, to go only forward, ahead, no matter what.”

Each of the athletes has their own goal for the end of the season, while the male part of the leaders has a very specific goal: to overtake the leader. And each of them can support the words of Ivan Gorbunov, who claims: there can be no stagnation in our skiing, everyone is following Bolshunov all season. “Thanks to this, progress is being made. We don’t stop, but, on the contrary, we increase.”

Did it work out beautifully?

And the women’s sprint ended with the victory of Veronica Stepanova, who gave no reason to doubt that she would not give up victory in the first start of the mini-tour. Second place was taken by Tatyana Sorina, who lost 2.28 seconds to the leader. Daria Nepryaeva was third (+2.70 seconds).

Veronica was laconic. “The race is forgotten, but the result remains. First place in the last sprint of the season. Dictating your own rules… Do you think it was done beautifully? I saved my energy for the final because I knew I could win today.” So simple.

And here’s another picture of the day: “I thought I’d come up after qualifying and say: “Let’s withdraw from the tour, because I can’t move my legs.” This is Daria Nepryaeva, who in the end ended up with a medal and joy that she did not say those same treacherous words. Kirovsk started the mini-tour vigorously. To be continued.

Russian Cup 2023/24 in cross-country skiing

The final. Kirovsk

April 3, Wednesday

10 km pursuit free style, women: 11.30

15 km, pursuit, free style, men: 13.00

April 5, Friday

10 km, time trial, classic style, women: 11.00

15 km, time trial, classic style, men: 13.00

April 7, Sunday

10 km, uphill mass start, free style, women: 10.00

10 km, mass start uphill, free style, men: 11.00


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