Fifteen men and 12 women from seven countries – Russia, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Japan, Germany and South Korea – competed for the medals in the aerials in what turned out to be two intriguing competitions.
In the men’s competition, the main battle was between the Russian athletes. Stanislav Nikitin, the bronze medal winner of the 2019 World Cup, scored highest during the qualification session with Burov, the 2019 World Cup winner, lying second ahead of Ruslan Katmanov, the 2019 European Champion in third.
However those initial standings were to change in the Finals as Nikitin fell while landing and subsequently finished in 11th place. That opened the door for Burov to take gold as he confirmed his stability and class when performing the same difficult programme which recently won him the World Cup in the USA. Second place and silver went to the 2017 Winter Universiade champion Zhonglin Li of China, whilst Katmanov held onto his third place to take bronze.
In the women’s competition, 2019 World Cup winner Romanovskaya of Belarus was the best qualifier, closely followed by Kristina Spiridonova and Lyubov Nikitina from Russia.
The Finals were an equally closely contested affair which was narrowed down further when another of the competition favourites Nuo Xu of China fell on one of her descents. Russian athletes, Lyubov Nikitina and Kristina Spiridonova, had performed their programmes with good scores to apply the pressure to Romanovskaya who was last to jump.
However the Belorussian athlete delivered when it mattered and took the gold medal having performed the most difficult jump of all the declared ones in the women’s competitions. Nikitina took second place and the silver medal, with third place and the bronze going to Kazakhstan freestyler Zhanbota Aldabergenova.
Day two of cross-country skiing once again belonged to hosts Russia.
Having already placed themselves well for the pursuits by sweeping the medals on the opening day of competition at the Raduga Cluster, the Russian team did not disappoint the home crowd as they picked up all six medals on offer.
The 10km Cross-Country Skiing Pursuit race was led by Russians Ivan Yakimushkin, Anton Timashov and Ivan Kirillov who had won gold, silver and bronze respectively in the Individual Classic race yesterday. Yakimushkin started with an advantage of 15 seconds over Timashov, followed closely by Kirillov and three more Russian compatriots with one French athlete and two Kazakh skiers the only challengers pressing the Russians.
Yakimushkin broke away from his pursuers at the 6.1 km mark and soon doubled his time advantage over Timashov, ultimately creating a winning position to earn the gold medal. However it needed a photo finish to determine the silver medal between Timashov and bronze medallist Kirillov.
In the women’s 5km Pursuit race, yesterday’s champion Alisa Zhambalova was the first to start followed shortly (three seconds interval) by Ekaterina Smirnova and Yana Kirpichenko, and the Russian trio kept close together throughout with Smirnova initially taking the lead.
At the 3.5 km mark, Zhambalova and Smirnova were well ahead of Kirpichenko, and turned the race into a two-way contest for victory. The finish saw both skiers take turns in gaining the lead, but in the last few metres it was Zhambalova who pulled away to earn the victory and her second gold medal of the Universiade.
The first day of Biathlon competitions saw Russia secure the top six places in the women’s individual race as well as land the men’s equivalent.
The women were the first to secure medals in the individual race at the Biathlon Academy Multifunctional Complex with Natalia Gerbulova taking gold, Ekaterina Moshkova the silver and Elena Chirkova the bronze as Russia occupied each step of the winner’s podium.
In the men’s individual race, Nikita Porshnev from Russia took the gold medal ahead of his compatriot Eduard Latypov in second place with silver and Félix Cottet-Puinel of France who took third place and bronze.
The ski orienteering competitions also started today with the men’s sprint at Raduga Cluster and once again the hosts featured in the medal count.
In this sport, the distance parameters are set not only in kilometres (the athlete covers a distance of 4-5 kilometres), but also in time with each competitor required to complete the sprint race in 12 to 15 minutes. The athletes started off at one-minute intervals, and received the map with the designated control points 15 seconds before the start.
The leading athletes in ski orienteering are from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia and it was their athletes which showed the best time at control points. Norway’s Audun Heimdal held the lead having chosen a short and convenient route, but crucially made a mistake in the middle of the race. This helped Vladislav Kiselev of Russia who did not make any visible mistakes during the race and as a result finished four seconds ahead of the Norwegian skier to take the gold medal, with another Russian Sergei Gorlanov taking third place and the bronze medal seven seconds behind Heimdal.
In other news on day 2 of the FISU Winter Universiade , Austria’s Jessica Gfrerer collected her second Universiade gold, this time in the Alpine Combined, after winning the Super-G title on Sunday.
There was also a first gold medal awarded in the short track speed skating competition which went to Korea’s Kim A Lang.