Today we will draw the line under Russia's performance at the 2013 biathlon world championship that concluded on Nove Mesto on Sunday. National shooting skiers laid their hands on two out of 11 sets of medals that were awarded in the Czech Republic.
Honestly it's difficult to give any assessment to the work of the Russian athletes and coaches because they took a tiny step forward in comparison with the previous world meeting in Germany, but on the other hand again Russia's results need significant improvement if the national squad want to shine at the home Games in Sochi.
Ok let's reward the patience of our listeners and say that Russian biathletes harvested one silver and one bronze in the Czech Republic.
I think a small correction should be made here. Russian biathlete collected one silver and one bronze in Nove Mesto because these two pieces of silverware we have just mentioned were Anton Shipulin's merit. We reported in our previous editions that the bronze Olympic medalist Shipulin completed the podium in the men's pursuit and he also finished second in mass-start losing to the winner Tarej Boe of Norway less than 4 seconds.
Unfortunately as two years ago Russian women left the tournament empty-handed failing to take any awards at all. Olga Zaitseva appeared to be the sole biathlete in the national team who had great chances to battle for awards but good luck seemed to fly away from the two-time Olympic winner as three times she finished the races in 4th place and she also occupied 5th position in the women's mass start on Sunday.
Both Russian squads could have earned awards in relay races but two quartets (men's and women's) displayed absolutely the same result by finishing right behind the top three teams. In women's squad it was Ekaterina Shumilova who faced troubles with shooting and in men's team Evgeniy Garanichev destroyed his compatriots’' efforts to clinch victory.
Yes after third exchange Garanichev was in the leading trio and it seemed that a medal will not slip away from Russia in this race, but second standing shooting turned out to be fatal for the young biathlete. Garanichev missed three times and three additional bullets were not enough to strike the target. As a result Garanichev was sent to cross two penalty loops allowing competitors from Norway, Germany, Austria, France and the Czech Republic to surpass him.
Russia's fourth participant Dmitriy Malyshko did everything in his power to reduce the time gap but as we all know all his efforts resulted in a non-podium 4th place at the finish.
Deeply pessimistic mood of the Russian fans was raised a little bit by Anton Shipulin who diluted two Norwegians on the podium in mass start. As we have already mentioned Tarej Boe celebrated victory in this biathlon event and his compatriot Emil Hegle Svendsen took bronze.
In women's mass-start Darya Domracheva of Belarus finally made all of the skeptics who had criticized her bite their tongues by dominating the race on Sunday. Tora Berger of Norway settled for silver and Monika Hojnizs of Poland was third. Notably Tora Berger took awards in every race she took part in collecting 4 golds in the process.
this championship can be truly named "the triumph of the Norwegian vikings" as Scandinavian biathletes went home with 9 awards of the highest value. Their readiness to perform at the highest level really impresses and we can only regret that the future hosts of the winter Games are not able to achieve the same height.
Staying with winter sports and from the Czech Republic let’s now move on to the future Olympic capital of Sochi which is continuing to test the sites of the 2014 Winter Games. The ninth and final stage of this season’s bobsleigh world cup was held at the newly built Sanki Sliding center that will host the Olympic bobsled, skeleton and luge events in 2014 Olympics… and I’m glad to say that it turned out victorious for the home team!
That’s right, Aleksandr Zubkov and his four man bobsled team finished third at the home stage of the tournament but his previous five wins turned out to be enough to claim the overall title. He scored 1937 points, surpassing his nearest rivals from Germany, led by Maximilian Arndt by 138 points.
Third overall place went to the Latvian crew of Oscars Melbardis, who by the way won the Sochi stage of the World Cup. So with less than a year left before the start of the 2014 Olympics, It looks like Aleksandr Zubkov and his partners will have to make the most of their time in order to upgrade that third place finish in Sochi to a gold Olympic medal.
Yes, it will be Aleksandr Zubkov’s fifth attempt at the Olympic summit. He’s been competing since 1999 and brought home two Olympic medals. In 2006 he won silver in a four man bobsled and then won bronze in a two man bobsled in Vancouver 2010. So, hopefully the home games will be his triumph and he will bring the coveted gold Olympic medal to his collection.
I know, we mentioned his Olympic record but I think we must say something about his performance in other major international competitions as well, since they say a lot more about this athlete’s successful career. And by the way, Aleksandr Zubkov is also hoped to bring Russia at least a podium place finish in a two man bobsled.
That’s right, he won the world championship in that event back in 2011 along with the World Cup. But most of Russia’s hopes are pinned on his expertise in the four man version… after all he did win the world cup in that event 6 times already. So once again, let’s hope he will make good use of the time left before the Sochi Games begin and approach the tournament in the best form possible.
I want to mention another Russian bobsledder who may be able to claim a place on the podium in Sochi. And that’s Aleksandr Kasjanov who finished in third place at the latest stage of the World cup. It became his second bronze this season in addition to silver won earlier in Canada’s Whistler.
Well, hopefully his third place finish at the home track in Sochi will also transform to an Olympic medal of at least the same value. Mind you both of the Russian athletes that we mentioned today are competing in two events – 2 and 4 man bobsleds. So best of luck to both of their teams.