“Everyone wants to win, but I want more.” Bolshunov has won every race since the start of the season.
Andrey Shitikhin December 24, 2023, 14:35 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
12 races out of 12 possible; Even his rivals admit that the three-time Olympic champion is invincible.
The last races of the Alfa-Bank Russian Ski Cup 2023/2024 were held in Kirovo-Chepetsk. Skiathlons for women and men were held in traditional format and won by Anastasia Kuleshova and Alexander Bolshunov.
“Everything is natural, I didn’t run”
Olympic and world bronze medalist Anastasia Kuleshova skipped the speed skating sprint and decided to focus on the skiathlon.
From the first kilometer he set great speed. Few could withstand her urge, only those who felt that if they let Anastasia go immediately, it would be useless to catch up with her. But only the Olympic champion Veronika Stepanova was able to endure the classical part.
After the pit stop, Kuleshova also escaped from it. Anastasia created a 12-second gap on the first climb and subsequently only increased the lead. She finished almost a minute ahead, cheered by the stands. It seemed that Kuleshova was even tired.
Photo: FLGR press service
Veronica, realizing that she would not be able to compete for victory, concentrated on holding off the group of three pursuers: Evgenia Krupitskaya, Maria Istomina and Lydia Gorbunova, which she also managed to do apparently with ease.
Kuleshova defeated Stepanova twice in Kirovo-Chepetsk:
Vyalbe worked in the mixed zone and interviewed skiers. Russian Cup, what are you doing?
But for third place there was a real showdown at the finish line, where Gorbunova was a little better than the rest, who, overcome with emotions, knelt down and hit the snow with her hand.
“I think it’s all natural, because yesterday I didn’t run the sprint and I kept much more strength than Veronica,” Kuleshova said after the finish line.
“I did everything as a joke”
The men’s skiathlon was more intense, although the winner was known before the start. In the form in which Alexander Bolshunov is now, it is impossible to beat him. Well, unless some kind of force majeure in the form of equipment breakdown could add intrigue.
However, Ilya Semikov generated intrigue. The Komi skier stopped three times. But the first attempt was short-lived: he just slowed down. After the second, the leading platoon was drastically reduced and the third was only supported by Alexander Bolshunov.
Two kilometers before the finish line, Bolshunov accelerated enough to guarantee victory. And he achieved the twelfth victory in the twelfth race of the Russian Cup since the start of the season. In Tyumen, he smiled when asked if he was prepared to win all the races. But the idea seems to have stuck.
Photo: FLGR press service
“The boys resisted (laughs), everyone wants to win, but I want a little more,” Bolshunov revealed the secret of his victories.
Bolshunov never tires of winning. And how does he manage to do this?
Bolshunov could destroy his opponents in the sprint. But he didn’t even have to do that.
Semikov finally finished second and was happy about it.
“I felt pretty good, so I decided not to sit on my skate, but attack. Defeating Bolshunov is still impossible. I tried to force him to fight, but he did it all as a joke,” Ilya admitted.
Third was Savely Korostelev, who before the Kirovo-Chepetsk stages underwent surgery to extract a wisdom tooth and was taking shape as the races progressed.
The next phase of the Russian Cup will be held in 2024 from January 11 to 15 in Kazan.