Yelena Vyalbe, president of the Russian Cross Country Ski Federation has unveiled qualification criteria for making it to the Russian team for the Winter Olympic Games of 2018
There are some 60 ( sixty!) candidates with a realistic chance of going to Pyeongchang, according to Vyalbe, quoted by the TASS news agency, – possibly, the biggest pool of aspirants outside the Norwegian team
The final list, however, would include only 10 women and 10 men.
The Russian selection is complicated by the suspension of five leading skiers ( there are six – but one since retired). The Olympic champion of Sochi Alexander Legkov, world champion of Falun-2015 Maxim Vylegzhanin, as well as Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov and Evgnenia Shapovalova are awaiting the decision of the CAS in Lausanne on their appeal. All of them have missed Lahti championship this year but remain viable candidates for the next Olympics should they be cleared.
Of top interest to the skiing fans – and leading rivals – is which races Sergey Ustiugov will participate in. 24 year old Russian, who took either gold or silver in each of the five races he run in Lahti, is , likely, the most versatile ski racer on the planet these days.
“If Ustiugov remains our leader in the next season, says Vyalbe cautiously, – he will have to make his own decisions as to what races he wants to run in Pyeongchang. If he wants to run all of them – so to be.”
The rest of the squad would have to vie for the Olympic selection through winning podiums at the FIS World Cup. To guarantee a place in the team one would have to finish in top three at any given WC stage – or twice in top six.
TOP PHOTO: Courtesy of Russian Ski Federation
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