Distraught Russian skier calls Beijing performance ‘total trash’
Russia’s Yulia Stupak could not hold back her emotions as the tearful star reflected on a disappointing performance in the women’s 15km skiathlon at the Beijing Olympics on Saturday.
Stupak came home 24th out of a field of 63 finishers at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Center – more than four minutes behind race winner Therese Johaug of Norway.
There was joy for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team as Natalia Nepryaeva claimed silver, but for countrywoman Stupak it was very much a day to forget in freezing conditions which posed a further challenge to competitors.
Stupak, 27, is a two-time Olympic medalist from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, where she claimed bronze in the women’s individual sprint and the 4x5km relay.
But she could not hide her disappointment at Saturday’s skiathlon showing in China.
“In general, I know I need to say something. But during the whole year, every day you try to overcome yourself, only to almost finish 30th, of course it’s complete trash for me,” Stupak told Match TV, holding back the tears.
“It's not my body, I don’t feel like myself. The whole year was difficult, it seemed like almost every week I had an illness or something else. I really hoped everything would change when I came here, but it didn’t…
“Thank you everyone for the support. I hope that further it will be better, because it can’t get any worse,” Stupak added before graciously congratulating teammate Nepryaeva on her silver medal.
“I’m really happy for Natalia, I said it would be her race. I really believed in her. For me… it seems like time to finish my sporting career, because with this kind of result I don’t want to race.”
Nepryaeva’s performance landed a first medal of the Beijing Games for the ROC team, was followed by a bronze for the Russian biathlon mixed relay quartet later on Saturday.
Mother-of-one Stupak – who is married to fellow Russian cross-country ski star Nikita Stupak – has three individual World Cup victories to her name and was second overall at the prestigious Tour de Ski in the 2020/21 season.
The same season she finished second in the overall World Cup rankings and third in the distance World Cup.
After the disappointment of Saturday, Stupak was offered words of encouragement from Russian Cross-Country Skiing Federation boss Elena Vyalbe as more challenges lie ahead in Beijing.
“Of course, this was said out of emotion,” said Vyalbe.
“She has to analyze everything. Twice in a year she was ill with coronavirus. It probably says something.
“She’s a human being, not made of iron.
“There are races ahead in which we also have hopes for her. We need her. I understand her perfectly, she expected to perform better. It’s just emotions,” Vyalbe told Match TV.