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Russian ski feud intensifies as star left bloodied (VIDEO)

National team stars Aleksandr Bolshunov and Sergey Ustiugov clashed again on Tuesday

Aleksandr Bolshunov was left dazed and bloodied after his rivalry with fellow Russian Olympic champion Sergey Ustiugov intensified when the pair collided at a race in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Region, on Tuesday.

Bolshunov and Ustiugov were both part of the Russian team which won gold in the 4 x 10km relay at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games back in February.

But an increasing feud has emerged between the duo as they have done battle at various stages of the Russian Cup this season.

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Tensions flared again on Tuesday when the pair were competing in the semifinals of the sprint freestyle.

Negotiating a descent and battling for the lead, both men were sent crashing to the ground after their skis appeared to touch.

Ustiugov recovered the quicker of the two, rising to his feet to continue to race.

Bolshunov came off worse, appearing dazed and confused before eventually making his way towards the finish.

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Both men finished far adrift at the back of the field, with Ustiugov in fifth and Bolshunov sixth.  

“Everything is fine, Sergey apparently can’t let the situation go,” Bolshunov told the media afterwards, appearing with his face bloodied.  

“On the descent I came out first, then Sergey seemed to overtake, but my skis were going better.

“I began to overtake him on the left, and at that moment he began to deliberately push with his skis, then I fell.

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“I even lost consciousness a little because I hit my head very hard. It took me a long time to recover.”

Bolshunov showed signs of the crash on his face after the race.


©  Telegram / Match TV

Ustiugov denied being in the wrong, saying: “Today I tried to work a little tougher, [but] within the rules… It happened so fast that I still don’t understand. We need to watch a replay, ask Aleksandr.

“But when we fell, he cursed at me. I thought everything was within the rules. I hope that this was the case, because I deliberately didn’t want to do this.

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“I just wanted to push a little harder today than the rest of the sprints. It didn’t work out.”

The clash is the latest in a series of incidents involving two of Russia’s biggest skiing stars, which has seen accusations of both men pushing their rivalry beyond the realms of the rules.

On Sunday, Ustiugov refused to take part in the awards ceremony for the classic sprint at the Russian Cup stage in Krasnogorsk.

Ustiugov was angered by the decision of officials not to punish Bolshunov for what he claimed was an infringement on track.

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Bolshunov was later found guilty of violating the rules, leading to a warning.

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Success in 2022 (from top left, clockwise): Anna Shcherbakova, Alexander Bolshunov, Russian women’s 4 x 5km cross-country skiing team, Islam Makhachev.
Russia’s sporting heroes of 2022

On Tuesday, however, both skiers escaped punishment after officials said “guilt in the collision of one of the skiers was not established, the episode was recognized as a mutual racing incident.”

Bolshunov, 25, is Russia’s most decorated skier at Olympic level, winning three gold medals as well as a silver and bronze at the Beijing Games in February. Overall, he has nine Olympic medals to his name.

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Ustiugov, 30, has an Olympic gold from the relay in Beijing and won double gold at the World Championships in 2017.

Russian skiers are competing in a series of domestic events this season as they remain banned from international competitions due to the conflict in Ukraine.

December 27, 2022 at 09:33PM
RT

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