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Russian & Kazakhs domination, more motivation

Winter Games 30 January 2015

STRBSKE PLESO – It has been said repeatedly, the Russian team overwhelmingly dominates the cross country competition at this Universiade. It owes its dominance to its selection system that allows the best athletes to participate at the Universiade in perfect conditions and with exceptional technical support.

Team Russia, gold medallist, men’s relay


The other teams are suffering and they will undoubtedly re-organize for future editions. Today, however, the athletes see in the Russian domination a way to raise their own level. They outperform and a place on the podium equals sheer happiness. This was the case today for two teams, i.e. France and the Czech Republic.

The joy of Team France after gaining the bronze in the women’s 3x5km relay


Nothing could be done to stop the teams of Russia and Kazakhstan on their quest for gold in the teams relay. Both teams literally overpowered both the men’s and women’s competition, respectively, winning gold and silver in both cases. The real battle however, was for the last podium place.

In the women’s race, the team of France managed to pocket the bronze in the 3x5km relay being 14 seconds faster than Team Poland which ended fourth. It was obviously a tremendous joy for Team France which won its first medal of the Universiade: “We believed in it until the very end so this victory gives us great happiness. The course is very demanding and you really have to work hard, times of recovery are non-existent. Facing strong teams like the Russians or Kazakhs provides us extra motivation that makes this place on the podium even more exceptional. We managed to maintain our medal gained in Trentino and it’s just fabulous!”

The final between Lucas Chavanat (FRA-left) and Daniel Maka (CZE) during the men’s 4×7.5km relay


France nearly won a second bronze medal. However, the last skier of ‘Les Bleus’ was doubled by the last Czech skier. It was a huge disappointment for the French who led for three laps, but that’s sport. Needless to say, the joy was intense for the Czech team, happy to mount the podium of the men’s 4×7.5km.

Catherine Schmidt from the US Team, “so happy to compete here”


We’ll leave the last word to Catherine Schmidt, an American skier who was attending her second Universiade after Trentino in 2013: “I must say that for me it is exceptional to be here on such a well prepared site with athletes who are among the best in their sport. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet athletes from all these countries, it makes me stronger and motivates me to train even harder.”


Yvan Dufour, Editor-in-Chief – Photos Roman Benicky & Yvan Dufour