January 16, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
Another busy day at Lake Placid 2023 allowed many fans to witness some great performances in cross-country skiing on Sunday as Mariel Merlii Pulles became the first Estonian to win a winter gold medal at the FISU World University Games while Finland secured two more medals.
Pulles took first place on the podium in the women’s free skate with a time of 2:54.57 in the final. Finns Tiia Olkkonen (2:55.20) and Anna-Maria Dietze (2:55.50) finished at the finish line.
The Pulles triumph was also Estonia’s first FISU Winter Games medal since Kaili Sirge won a bronze medal in cross-country skiing in Turin in 2007, also in the women’s freestyle sprint.
The 24-year-old Alaska Fairbanks University student just couldn’t be happier after the race.
“I feel amazing,” she said with a big smile on her face. “I dreamed about it before the start of the season and now I just managed to do it.”
Neighboring Estonia and Finland undeniably stole the show on day two of the cross-country skiing competition when 24-year-old Finn Verneri Poikonen won the men’s final in 2:34.74.
The giant from the University of Jyväskylä stood out, literally roaring with joy and relief as he crossed the finish line ahead of Jaume Puyo of Spain (2:35.27) and Tom Mancini of France (2:35.93).
“My leg hurt this morning, and when I spoke to my coach after qualifying, I never thought about winning a medal today,” Poikonen explained after the race.
His fears were allayed by a late qualifying for the final round, which he managed thanks to an impressive return to the last place of the “lucky loser” in the final.
The last race of the day at the great Mt. Van Hoevenberg also provided an opportunity for local fans to shout their unconditional support for American Will Koch, son of American Olympic legend Bill Koch, and lead him to a gripping sixth place overall. final.
Written by Louis Gilles, a young FISU reporter
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