Russian cross-country skier DQed after whipping opponent with ski pole, tackling

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Russian Aleksander Bolshunov, the world’s top-ranked cross-country skier, was disqualified after whipping at a Finnish opponent with a ski pole on the finishing straight, then tackling the skier after they crossed the finish line of a World Cup relay on Sunday.

Bolshunov was slightly trailing Finland’s Joni Mäki going into the final straightaway of a 4×7.5km relay in Lahti, Finland.

Mäki shifted to his right, closer to Bolshunov along the advertising boards, and the two athletes’ skis made contact. The Russian was knocked off balance. Obstruction is illegal, but Mäki and his Finnish team were not disqualified or relegated.

Bolshunov reacted by whipping his right ski pole at Mäki, then doing it again with more force as the Finn skied away from him to grab second place.

Bolshunov crossed in third place moments later, then veered off his line and collided into the side and back of Mäki, who fell to the snow surrounded by his teammates.

Bolshunov was disqualified 15 minutes later for unsportsmanlike conduct upon video review. Another Russian team was elevated to third place.

Bolshunov won last season’s World Cup overall title and leads this season’s standings with seven individual victories. He earned four medals at both the 2018 Olympics and the 2019 World Championships.

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