Cross country: Putin inspires Russians to relay silver

Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:48am EST
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By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Russia, watched by President Vladimir Putin, claimed their first cross-country skiing medal of the Sochi Olympics when they took silver in the men's 4x10km relay on Sunday.

Dmitriy Japarov, Alexander Bessmertnykh, Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin brought their country its first medal in the history of the event, finishing 27.3 seconds behind Sweden.

"My ski's were playing up today," Japarov, who led the Russians off, told reporters.

"There was no problem with the waxing but there was something wrong with the structure of the skis. On the third lap, I stated to ski a lot slower than on the first two. Maybe my skis had picked up some dirt. It is a shame to lose to something that was out of my control."

Bessmertnykh did not blame his equipment.

"My skis were fine but I did not have enough strength", the 27-year-old said.

"I immediately went ahead and took a number of the chasing pack with me. I did not have any other alternative. If I had sat on someone's shoulder, then I would have been over two minutes behind the leaders.

Putin was watching on from the stands.   Continued...

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Sports Minister Vitali Mutko (L) watch the cross country skiing men's relay during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center near Krasnaya Polyana February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin