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Russian skier apologizes for unsportsmanlike conduct after clash with Finnish rival

On January 24, the Russian men’s first team were disqualified and stripped of a bronze medal for unsporting behavior during the final stage of the ski race
Alexander Bolshunov EPA-EFE/GIAN EHRENZELLER
Alexander Bolshunov
© EPA-EFE/GIAN EHRENZELLER

MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. Russian cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov and President of the Russian Cross-Country Ski Federation Yelena Vyalbe offered an apology for the athlete’s unsporting behavior during the World Cup ski race in Finland’s Lahti, the Russian Ski Association’s press service said.

On January 24, the Russian men’s first team consisting of Bolshunov, Aleksey Chervotkin, Evgeniy Belov and Denis Spitsov were disqualified and stripped of a bronze medal for unsportsmanlike behavior during the final stage of the ski race. Unable to pass, Bolshunov whipped Finnish skier Joni Maki with a ski pole. After losing to Maki, he knocked his rival down on purpose at the finish line. On Monday, the Finnish police received a statement on the sustained injuries.

"Hostility is not part of the Russian team’s spirit and we highly appreciate the principle of a fair game in all aspects," the statement said. "Therefore Alexander Bolshunov apologized to Joni Maki and the Russian Ski Association sent an official letter to the Finnish Ski Association with the apology. We sincerely hope that dedication and hard work of all athletes, their results, and the beauty of cross-country skiing will return to the spotlight and continue delighting many fans around the world. "

The next stage of the World Cup ski race is due in Sweden’s Falun on January 29-31.