Short track speed skater Vladimir Balbekov won the most medals in the first four days of the competition – he has three golds and a silver. Also, Ekaterina Aldoshkina and Alexander Bolshunov earned three awards of the highest standard, who continue to fight for the title of the most titled athlete of the tournament. The start of the competition at the Sanki bobsleigh complex brought two golds each to the teams from Moscow and the Moscow region, and the only winner of the day not from these teams was 36-year-old Nadezhda Sergeeva, who took first place in the monobob races. In acrobatic events, Artyom Glushchenko presented a surprise, winning gold in moguls. What do you remember about the third and fourth days of the Spartakiad of the Strongest – in the RT material.
Who will become the most titled?
From the very first days of the Spartakiad, a correspondence struggle began for the title of the most titled athlete of this tournament. Here, of course, the advantage is on the side of those athletes who can perform in different disciplines of their event. One of the main favorites is skier Alexander Bolshunov, who already has three gold medals.
But Ekaterina Aldoshkina is capable of competing with him, who combines performances in two related sports at these competitions – short track speed skating and speed skating. It was the Chelyabinsk athlete who became the first winner of three gold medals at the tournament in her home arena “Ural Lightning”.
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On the first day, she celebrated her victory at the 1500 m distance, and two days later she added two more awards of the highest standard to her treasury. First, she excelled in the 1000 m distance, and less than an hour later she also won the mixed relay as part of the Chelyabinsk region team. Catherine could have continued her triumphal march the next day, but in the women's relay her team finished only second, and then was completely disqualified.
However, the native of the Chelyabinsk region will not stop there. Now she is going to change her short track skates to speed skating and compete for four more gold medals in a related sport. If Ekaterina manages to implement her maximum plan, then she will be able to get ahead of Bolshunov, even if he continues his winning streak: potentially, the Olympic champion will be able to win only six gold medals – this is exactly the number of sets of awards provided for in the tournament for men's skiers.
According to Aldoshkina’s teammate, Eybog, Ekaterina is capable of winning the most
“It is quite possible. I believe in Katya. She is very strong and purposeful, and in speed skating she will also show a very high result, 100%,” Match TV quotes Eybog as saying.
But at the moment the most titled athlete of the competition is short track speed skater Vladimir Balbekov. He has three gold and one silver awards. The 22-year-old athlete created a sensation on the first day of the tournament, twice ahead of the living legend of domestic short track speed skating Semyon Elistratov, but at a distance of 1000 m the Olympic champion of Sochi took convincing revenge. And for the third time, Balbekov rose to the highest step of the podium as part of the St. Petersburg relay team on the final day of the competition. The athlete admitted that he does not need to find motivation for training and performances even in the absence of international competitions.
“I learned to enjoy myself, and also to run in first place – it’s doubly pleasant. I am sure that everything together helped to achieve this result. On my part, it was very difficult preparation – both moral and physical, but it was also a huge job of the coach, a huge job of our psychology specialists and medical staff,” TASS quotes the athlete.
At the same time, Balbekov believes that he will have the opportunity to perform not only at the Spartakiad, but also at the 2026 Olympic Games.
“I hope not only to perform there, but also to show a result that will make everyone gasp,” Vladimir emphasized.
Gold of 36-year-old Sergeeva
The start of the competition at the Sanki bobsleigh complex on Monday brought two gold medals to the teams of Moscow and the Moscow region.
So, in skeleton, Muscovite Alina Tararychenkova left no chance for her rivals. Her advantage was so significant that in the final attempt she could afford to relax and come sixth. The silver award went to her teammate Anastasia Tsyganova, but she didn’t get a full Moscow podium – in the fight for bronze, Polina Tyurina lost only 0.04 seconds to Victoria Vettel from the Krasnodar Territory.
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The victorious spirit of the capital's skeleton athletes was supported by Andrei Bogdanov and Yuri Prokhorov, who took first place in the two-seater sleigh races. Evgeny Evdokimov and Semyon Mikov, also representing the capital, took second place. And the silver medalists of Sochi 2014, Alexander Denisyev and Vladislav Antonov from the Krasnoyarsk Territory, remained with bronze.
The winners admitted that they wanted to win the competition with the course record, which was set exactly ten years ago. On February 12, 2014, at the Olympics, the Germans Tobias Arlt and Tobias Wendl became champions, showing 0.49.373 in the first final attempt.
“We don’t have enough foreign crews to compete with them. Otherwise, it turns out that young athletes come to us based on their results, but we stand still. Therefore, now our most important task is to break the track record. But either the weather doesn’t cooperate, or some other difficulties arise,” Prokhorov shared.
Another silver medal was brought to Moscow by Ekaterina Fomina and Polina Grigorieva in the women's doubles competition. The girls lost only to Victoria Demchenko and Olesya Mikhailenko, representing the Moscow region.
And the second gold of the day was added to the Moscow region's piggy bank by bobsledders Rostislav Gaityukevich and Alexey Laptev. They brought second place, which was taken by Stepan Dubinko and Alexander Efimov, 2.38 seconds. Alexey Stulnev and Nikolai Kozlov took bronze in this discipline.
The only victory in “Sled” that did not go to representatives of Moscow or the Moscow region happened in the monobob competition. There, 36-year-old native of Kemerovo Nadezhda Sergeeva again confirmed her class, who without any problems was ahead of Anastasia Makarova and Lyubov Chernykh. At the same time, the athlete admitted that even despite her vast experience of performing at major tournaments, she was excited to go to the start of the Spartakiad.
“Now they are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Sochi Games, and I remembered my races. At the Sochi Olympics, my pilot experience was only one year, I was young and inexperienced, and all the greatness of this event, of course, pressed on me. But now it’s not easy for me either. We are all forced to sit and compete in Sochi, everyone has a huge run-up on this track, and anything can happen,” the bobsledder emphasized.
Snowboarding, freestyle and… love
The parallel giant slalom snowboard competition was without surprises. Former world champions in this discipline Sofia Nadyrshina and Andrey Sobolev won confident victories. In the final, the native of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk was ahead of Polina Karimova, and the representative of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug was ahead of Yaroslava Stepanko.
One of the memorable moments of the day was the marriage proposal that coach of the Russian freestyle skiing team Dmitry Mulendeev made to snowboarder Polina Smolentseva. A touching event occurred after the award ceremony. The young man got down on one knee and presented his beloved with a ring and a bouquet of flowers. The girl said yes.
“Theoretically, the “proposal” procedure is formal and carries a social meaning, that is, a designation of our union for society. But in fact, even for ourselves, the ritual turned out to be quite exciting. It was as if I was experiencing several emotional stages of testing the seriousness of my intentions, at each of which a rethink occurred. Polina was completely shocked. Now she’s happy and smiling!” — Mulendeev shared his emotions with the press service of the Russian Freestyle Federation.
Freestyle skiers competed for medals in moguls on Monday, and Artem Glushchenko quite unexpectedly won gold among men. For the 19-year-old athlete, this is the first victory of this level in adult competitions. Up to this point, his best result was 6th place at the 2022 Russian Championships. But the triumph of Victoria Lazarenko among girls was more expected, because she twice became the world champion among juniors (2018, 2021), and at the adult world championship she won a silver award in the mogul pairs.
“Competitions such as the Winter Spartakiad are necessary, since the strongest athletes throughout the country are selected here. You can find out who is the strongest of all the athletes today, what shape the opponents are in,” the athlete shared her impressions of the tournament.