Russian athlete Mariya Kechkina and Sweden’s Erik Rost emerged as champions after gruelling Long Distance races in soft snow at Yundola, Bulgaria today.
Rost had a slow start and was just sixth fastest at 12.4 km, with home hope Stanimir Belomazhev looking a possible winner. But the next four kilometres proved decisive for Rost; he was in front time-wise after 16.4 km of the 19.8 km course with 910 m climb, and after that never appeared in danger of losing the lead. Belomazhev was challenged hard by both Øyvind Watterdal, Norway and the veteran Russian Eduard Khrennikov who was last to start, but held on for the silver medal, with Watterdal taking the bronze.
The women’s race (14.6 km / 600m climb) was won by the strong Russian athlete Mariya Kechkina. Tove Alexandersson, Sweden made her usual fast start and was the quickest up to 3.7 km, but to the next radio control at 9.5 km she lost almost 7 minutes and at that point was down in 8th place. Kechkina was the best in the field at 9.5 km and then built on her lead, with Magdalena Olsson, Sweden coming through to second place at the end, 3.47 down. Bronze medallist was Kechkina’s compatriot Anastasia Kravchenko, 5.29 down on the winning time.
It was a nice day for spectators today but hard for the athletes, with a temperature of + 6 degrees and therefore a lot of soft snow: very tricky on some of the steep climbs and descents. There were even a few places with no snow, despite the organisers’ efforts in remaking the tracks.
Winners of the Junior World and European Youth Long Distance races are:
JWSOC: men, Jørgen Baklid NOR; women, Ekaterina Stepanova RUS
EYSOC: men, Matias Maijala FIN; women, Olesia Riazanova RUS
Tomorrow, high temperatures are again likely after some rain overnight. The Relay is the final competition of the Championships and will start at 10.00 local time.
- Mariya Kechkina RUS 1:13:10
- Magdalena Olsson SWE 1:16:57
- Anastasia Kravchenko RUS 1:18:39
- Anna Ulvensøen NOR 1:19:14
- Tove Alexandersson SWE 1:20:53
- Marjut Turunen FIN 1:21:45
- Erik Rost SWE 1:33:48
- Stanimir Belomazhev BUL 1:34:39
- Øyvind Watterdal NOR 1:34:47
- Eduard Khrennikov RUS 1:35:00
- Andrey Lamov RUS 1:36:21
- Lars Moholdt NOR 1:36:44