Prior to Sunday’s World Cup in Rybinsk, Russia the home team had yet to see any of its skiers on top the podium. That all changed with the 15/30 k skiathons in which both Maxim Vylegzhanin and Yulia Tchekaleva were victorious.
Vylegzhanin crossed the line in the men’s 30 k with a time of 1:21:54.8, besting Swiss skier Dario Cologna by 2.7 seconds. In third was Matti Heikkinen of Finland who trailed the Russian by 6.2 seconds. The Finn was followed by a wall of five Russian skiers, who cemented the country’s dominance in the 30 k by placing 6 in the top-10.
In 10th was Canada’s Alex Harvey who finished 16.0 seconds back from Vylagzhanin. Teammates Ivan Babikov, Devon Kershaw and Graeme Killick placed 19th, 34th, and 40th, respectively. Matt Gelso was the lone U.S. finisher and skied to 48th (of 49). Erik Bjornsen started the race but pulled out after the start of the freestyle portion.
In the women’s 15 k Tchekaleva earned a time of 44:16.0 to best a charging Martine Ek Hagen of Norway by 15.6 seconds. Finland’s Ritta-Liisa Roponen skied to third, trailing by 22.9 seconds. In fourth came German Stefanie Böhler (+23.0) who was able to outlast American Jessie Diggins (+25.8) in fifth.
Liz Stephen finished the race in seventh after racing in a large pack of skiers who were aiming for third. Other Americans in the top-20 included Sadie Bjornsen in 13th and Rosie Brennan in 20th. Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell finished 35th and 43rd.