Emil Joensson (SWE) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) defended their Russian Sprint Tour titles, holding off the competition in the last race of the four event series.
The last two races were both held on Sunday. The classic sprint, the only standard event of the weekend, kicked off the day. Kowalczyk won over Polina Medvedeva (RUS) and Valentina Novikova (RUS).
Joensson took the victory over Nikita Kriukov (RUS) and Martin Koukal (CZE).
In the afternoon Kowalczyk held her lead in the 2.6km pursuit, crossing the line 11 seconds ahead of Novikova. Elena Turysheva was 3rd.
Joensson finished 19 seconds ahead of Kriukov in the 3.9km men’s pursuit. Kriukov skied up from 4th, working with the fifth starter Renato Pasini (ITA) to reach the podium. Pasini took 3rd, 3 seconds in back of Kriukov, and 2 seconds ahead of Koukal.
Igor Usachev (RUS), the 2nd starter, slipped to 8th place.
While the distance was advertised as 2.6/3.9km, unless the race was another downhill event, the actual course was likely shorter given that Kowalczyk won in 7:23 and Joensson in 9:59.
The Russian Sprint Tour consisted of a number of non-traditional races. The event started with an “extreme” sprint – basically a ski-cross race, complete with jumps and slalom gates.
The second race was some sort of knockout criterium. Here is a translation of the race description form Google Translate:
The second day of competition organizers have offered to athletes race Shootout. Its essence is that athletes will start on two parallel tracks in opposite directions and ran around the ring as if toward each other. As part of the ring road uneven, then the athletes rather difficult to track which of the groups leader. And it is very important. For up to the community judges removed from the race the slowest athletes. Therefore, skiers had little opportunity to rest them all the time it was necessary to control the process and conduct a tactical fight.
Said Kowalczyk after the event “For me it was a very good race. All the time you need to understand what you’re doing. If this race will be in the program of the World Cup, the battle will be very, very interesting.”
Add Kriukov, “I really liked this race. They said that perhaps in two years this discipline appear in the program of the World Cup ski racing. Therefore, an extra practice never hurts. Today, I failed to get on the podium, I think it is a coincidence. But it was very interesting. You run and you see the opponent, when crosses the finish line and if you need to accelerate, it accelerates. Also, we should not ride in the tail, and all the time in the head group as well as past participants in the course of the race is eliminated. I think this new discipline should be used during the preparation for competitions.”
Joensson and Kowalczyk took home 5,000 Euros for the overall victory, while winners of the individual races each received 3,000 Euros.
There are some great photos of the “extreme” sprint at the following sites: