The first stage of the World Cup in cross-country skiing was remembered for two things. This is the massive refusal of strong skiers – led by the entire Norwegian brigade – from the final race due to freezing temperatures. And the dominance of Russian athletes. And not only Alexandra Bolshunov.
Aleksandr Terentyev, who started only the sprint in Finland, did not finish first in four races only once and deservedly won the first sprint of the season. The 22-year-old skier already admits that such a triumph has become difficult. The coaching staff does not deny that Terentyev has everything to consistently perform at a high level. And not only in the sprint.
Once again, Alexey Chervotkin showed his ability to endure. Alexander Bolshunov, whose preseason turned out to be crumpled due to operations, did not hit his face in the dirt either. And, for the first time in his entire career, Sergei Ustyugov won a medal in Ruka. Elk finished second in the pursuit race before finishing fifth in the classic style race. The two-time world champion did not have such a successful start even in the most successful seasons.
After the strong first two seasons, which entered and won the Tour de Ski and 5 medals in one World Championship, Ustyugov wilted. Injuries, including completely accidental ones, such as bruises from a fall in training before last year’s World Cup, and illness, and, possibly, some psychological workload, also interfered. After Ustyugov was not allowed to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, the skier gave many critical interviews, including admitting that the Games would never again become the highest value of a sports career for him.
This offseason, Ustyugov was again not going smoothly. The athlete spent almost a month on the treatment of sinusitis. However, even after crumpled preparation, Moose won the sprint at the tournament in Finnish Muonin (behind, including the best sprinter of the last season, Federico Pellegrino), and became the second freestyle in the race.
After a successful performance and at the World Cup stage, Ustyugov’s good form was noticed not only by Russian coaches. Two-time Olympic champion Peter Nortug admitted that compatriots now need to be wary of at least one Russian skier.
– Bad news for the opponents, but I see that Ustyugov is back. He looks well prepared for the seasons and resembles the Sergei we saw in 2017. If Ustyayugov manages to get closer to his then level, then the Norwegians will have another Russian, which must be feared at the Olympics, – Nortug admitted on the air of TV2.
It would be nice if the Norwegian legend was not wrong. Ustyugov, though not burning with the dream of an Olympic medal. But he does not hide that he would not refuse the prize in Beijing. The main thing is without injuries and illnesses.