Celebrated cross-country skier Justyna Kowalczyk failed to bring glory to her country on day four of the winter Olympics in South Korea, finishing a distant 22nd in the women’s individual classic sprint.
Kowalczyk has five Olympic medals and eight world championship medals to her name, but has been struggling to return to top form ever since she was diagnosed with depression in 2014.
Two other Poles competing in the event, Sylwia Jaśkowiec and Ewelina Marcisz, did not get past the qualifying stage, finishing 37th and 38th respectively.
Sweden’s Stina Nilsson won the gold in the women’s individual classic sprint, clocking a time of 3:03.84 in the final, while Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla took the silver, and Yulia Belorukova, a Russian athlete competing under the Olympic flag, grabbed the bronze.
Men's cross-country skiing
In the men’s cross-country skiing individual classic sprint, Poland’s Dominik Bury, a 21-year-old, unexpectedly qualified for the quarterfinals, but finished 30th, last among those who advanced to this stage of the competition. More experienced countryman Maciej Staręga failed to make it to the quarterfinals and finished 39th overall.
The gold medal went to Norway’s Johannes Hoesflota Klaebo, who clocked in at 3:05.75 in the final, while Italy’s Federico Pellegrino took the silver with 3:07.09. Alexander Bolshunov, competing under the Olympic flag rather than for his native Russia, won the bronze with 3:07.11.
In the men’s 1,500-metre speed skating event, Poland’s Zbigniew Bródka failed to defend his title from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, finishing 12th, 2.30 seconds behind the winner, Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands, who clocked a time of 1:44.01.
Another Dutchman, Patrick Roest, took the silver, while South Korea’s Kim Min-Seok claimed the bronze.
Two other Polish speed skaters competing in the men’s 1,500 metres, Jan Szymański and Konrad Niedźwiedzki, finished 16th and 20th respectively, adding to feelings of disappointment among fans at home.
Short-track speed skating
In short-track speed skating, Poland’s Natalia Maliszewska was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the women’s 500 metres and lost her chance of bringing home a medal. Ahead of the Games many named her among the country’s potential chances for Olympic glory in South Korea.
Italy’s Arianna Fontana took the gold in the women’s 500 metres, with a time of 42.569 seconds, ahead of Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands, with 43.256 seconds, and Kim Boutin of Canada, with 43.881 seconds.
Earlier in the day, Polish Alpine skier Michał Kłusak did not finish the men’s combined event after failing to complete the slalom. He was 46th after the downhill leg of the competition.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won the gold, while France’s Alexis Pinturault took the silver and countryman Victor Muffat-Jeandet won the bronze in the men’s combined on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, two Polish women lugers, Ewa Kuls-Kusyk and Natalia Wojtuściszyn, both finished outside the top 20, failing to advance to the competition's fourth and last run on Tuesday.
Natalie Geisenberger of Germany became Olympic champion, ahead of second-placed compatriot Dajana Eitberger, while Canada’s Alex Gough unexpectedly took the bronze.
Source: TVP, Eurosport, PAP