Russian cross-country star Zhambalova wins fourth gold medal at Winter Universiade
Russian cross-country skier Alisa Zhambalova etched her name into the records books for the 2019 Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk by claiming a fourth gold medal after winning the 15 kilometre freestyle event.
Zhambalova was made to work hard during the longest and last of the women’s ski events on the Siberian cross-country ski trails of Raduga Cluster. However she was finally able to pull ahead of her teammate Ekaterina Smirnova in the closing stages to add another gold to those already secured in the individual five kilometre classic, pursuit and 3×5 kilometre relay.
For the first half of this race the leading group was comprised of the Russians, Kazakhstan’s Valeriya Tyuleneva, two Czechs – Petra Hyncicova, Winter Universiade 2019 sprint winner and Anna Sixtova, winner of the Pursuit race at the Slavic Cup – and a trio of Japanese athetes in Shiori Yokohama, Chika Kobayashi and Miki Kodama.
However that leading group soon splintered with Zhambalova, Kirpichenko and Smirnova at the front together leading with one kilometre to go. With the finish line in sight, Zhambalova made her decisive late move around Smirnova to take the title in a time of 38:39.08; the difference to Smirnova in second at the line of just 1.1 seconds showing just how close the contest was. Fellow Russian Yana Kirpichenko finished third to complete a Russian sweep of the medals while Kodama in fifth place marked the first competitor outside of the host nation leading quartet to cross the line in the mass start event.
Austria’s Richard Leitgeb was denied a consecutive alpine skiing men’s slalom title at Funpark Bobrovy Log as Seme Efimov delighted his home crowd by taking the gold medal
Leitgeb was favourite to retain his title from two years ago in Kazakhstan but Yefimov’s first run of 41.89 seconds put him into first place going into run two, where he finished in 45.25 for a total of 1:27.14.
Leitgeb’s times of 42.92 in run one, and 45.16 in run two saw him finish just 0.94 seconds behind Efimov with 1:28.08 and a silver medal. France’s Paco Rassat meanwhile took bronze with a total of 1:28.36. He was quickest in run two with a 45.04, adding to his 43.32 from run one to finish 1.22 seconds behind Efimov.
That gold means it is now four of the top medals and nine medals in total for Russia who have dominated the alpine skiing competition.
Russia also picked up four medals as the freestyle skiing comes to a close at Sopka Cluster, thanks to Artem Nabiulin taking the men’s event and compatriot Ekaterina Maltseva taking top honours in the women’s contest.
23 men and 8 women from 14 countries came to the course for the final events and Nabiulin won gold in the men’s event ahead of countryman Maxim Vikhrov and Germnay’s Florian Wilmsmann who took silver and bronze respectively.
In the women’s ski cross event, Maltseva from Russia won gold from teammate Anna Antonova who won the silver medal, whilst Klara Kasparova from the Czech Republic picked up the bronze medal.