Alexander Bolshunov: “I love all races, as long as I am feeling good”

Four-time winner of the Pyeongchang Games finished his best season in his career with three victories at the Championship of Russia, held in Syktyvkar. First, Alexander Bolshunov won the Team Sprint in pair with Gleb Retivykh, then he had no equal in the 15km Classic Style, and yesterday the native of the Bryansk Region struck gold in the 4x10km Relay Race as part of the national team of the Tyumen Region.

Before answering the questions of the ROC Information Service, Alexander Bolshunov gave autographs and took pictures with local fans for 20 minutes without leaving the podium after the award ceremony. ‘Will you come back? finally asked  one of his fans from Syktyvkar. ‘I will, if you will support me as much as today,’ answered the 21-year-old athlete with a smile.

Our interview was held in the same joky manner.

– Congratulations! Now you are three-time champion of Russia 2018! But  the 50 km race is still ahead…

– I will not run the marathon for sure.  I need some rest.

– So the season is over for you?

– I don’t know, plans change every day. Now I’m going to Moscow, where several meetings are planned. And then, perhaps, I will take part in the Ugra marathon (it starts on April 8).

– Choose the most suitable epithet to evaluate the current season: good, very good, outstanding?

– It is a common season…

– Are you joking?

– No, of course, the season turned out very good, even excellent! Medals from the World Cup and four Olympic medals appeared in my collection. If not the illness,due to which I  missed two races at the Olympics, it could have even been better. On the other hand, looking back at the results of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games, I begin to think that maybe it’s better that I got sick after the Tour de Ski and did not take part in the Youth World Championship?

– What virus struck you then?

– It’s unknown to science. During the Tour de Ski we moved a lot. Plus I got tired from numerous starts. Thus, apparently, the body could not resist the tension. Same thing happened with Aleksey Chervotkin. But I went to Korea two or three days before him.

– At what moment did you  understand that it was possible to fight for the Olympic medals?

– After taking medals at the first stages of the World Cup in Finland, Norway and Switzerland I understood that with good preparation you can go after the top positions in each race at the Olympic Games.

– You arrived in Pyeongchang on February 12, and on the next day you won your first Olympic medal, becoming the third in the Individual Sprint. This completely discards the thesis that it is necessary to adapt to weather conditions and time zone!

– And frankly speaking, I didn’t feel that I was thousands of kilometers away from Russia. In Korea the track similar to our tracks, and typical Russian frost. These conditions fit me and the other guys perfectly. We really felt at home.

– You earned a reputation as a universal soldier, that will do good in Sprint in distance races.

– You should be able to do everything.

– But there must be a favorite race?

– I love all the races, as long as I am feeling good!

– After your silver in the Olympic marathon, the coach of the Russian national team Markus Kramer noticed that you lacked competitive practice at this particular distance.

– Let’s count. Last year I won a 50 km race at the Russian championship. And I had another similar start three years ago.

– It turns out that in Pyeongchang it was your third time in life?

– Yes. But I conceded to Niskanen not in the experience. I just lacked exact information on the reserve skis. The weather changed and the  skis that were initially prepared, were no good. Because of this, I decided not to change the shoes a few kilometers before the finish line. And then I learned that the other tested skis were waiting for me.

– What do you think you need to improve?

– Speaking of sprint, I need to work on the finish. Then I will not be afraid neither of Klebo, nor Pellegrino. We will work with the coach on improving the final breakthrough during the summer.

– In Syktyvkar fans do not give you a minute. Are you tired of such popularity?

– It’s just one more day. After the season is over, all the excitement will quickly fade away. With skiers, it always happens in the Olympic year.  First they all want us, and then forget about us.

– Is it disappointing?

– No. I know that other guys take offense. Although I think that the attention will  come with results.

– Many skiers go to Biathlon. Don’t you want to do that?

– I know how to shoot, but I do not want to change the sport. I still need to win a lot of awards in Skiing. Next year Austria will host the adult World Championship. I prepare for successful performance, although in my age I could still perform at the youth tournaments.

– Have you ever regretted that you were born on New year day, December 31?  

– If I was born on January 1, would have been a year younger. So, my rivals always were of my age, but in fact one year older. That’s helped me improve endurance.