Sergey Ustiugov claimed second gold medal at the U23 World Ski Championships in Liberec. Ustiugov won in the time of 1:11:37. Evgeniy Belov (RUS) finished second +2.5 sec back. Mark Starostin of Kazakhstan grabbed bronze.
Shortly after noon, 69 competitors set off in unpleasant frosty conditions. In the trail in Vesec, the competitors skied 15 km in the classic technique and after the change of equipment they went the same distance in free technique.
Ustiugov and Belov soon escaped the rest of the competitors and developed a comfortable lead by their machine-like pace. The year-younger Ustiugov was a bit faster in the end, and managed to confirm his status of a superstar. (He won four gold medals at the last year’s Junior Championship in Turkey.) A struggle for bronze was, in the end, won by the Mark Kazakh Starostin. Starostin was in ninth position after the classic style, but improved during the second half of the competition. In the finish, he spoilt Thomas Bing’s chance to win his second medal in Liberec. Even the fastest change of equipment did not help the German to get the bronze.
"It is amazing to claim second gold medal at the U23 Championships. It is a dream come true. I performed well last year in Erzurum and I have worked a lot the whole year to come to Liberec in shape. It was a difficult race today. It was good me and Evgeniy went away and could work together little. The course is quite demanding here and it was tough to ski the 12 laps,“ said happy winner Sergey Ustiugov.
Evgeniy Belov: „Congratulations to Sergey for the gold medal. I tried hard to be the winner but it did not work out. It was a tough race. It was cold but we are used to skiing in such conditions. We skied together with Sergey and I think we did a good job. I skied technically well and we also had a good tactics. In the last lap I tried to save some energy for the finish but Sergey was faster.“
Mark Starostin: „It is an amazing day. It is a great success for me, my first big medal from the Championships. In the last lap there were four of us. I attacked on the second last uphill and managed to open a small gap before the home stretch. The success today has give me big motivation for the ned training.“