By Michael Pavitt

Russian teams finished first and second in the cross country mixed sprint ©FISUThe first day of cross-country skiing at the Winter Universiade saw Russia among the medals in the individual events, so it was no surprise that they enjoyed further success in the first team competition on day two, while the first Nordic combined medals were award in Štrbské Pleso, Slovakia.

Silver medallist in yesterday's men's individual sprint Anton Gafarov joined forces with the women's bronze medallist Svetlana Nikolaeva to form a strong Russian first team and the duo unsurprising qualified fastest from the semi-final and confirmed their domination in the final, finishing in 19min 56.98sec to take the gold.

In fact, the three fastest qualifiers from the semi-final took the podium positions, with the second Russian team of Raul Shakirzianov and Anna Povoliaeva finishing in second place in 20:00.84, while the Czech Republic's Jan Srail and Karolina Grohova took the bronze medal, 16 seconds clear of fourth placed Finland.

The Russian President of the National University Sports Federation of Russia Oleg Matytsin claimed that the performance of their athletes was not a surprise as they organise National Championships to qualify for the Universiade, with the qualifiers given special preparation to help the achieve at the event.

Adam Cieslar of Poland claimed the first Nordic combined gold, following a photo-finish ©FISUAdam Cieslar of Poland claimed the first Nordic combined gold, following a photo-finish ©FISU

The first of three Nodric combined events in the Slovakian venue also took place, with Poland's Adam Ciesler claiming the gold after winning the 10 kilometres cross-country race.

Ciesler was lying in third position following the ski jumping event but beat Germany's David Welde via a photo finish to claim the gold in the cross-country event, with his fellow Pole Sczepan Kupczak rounding of the podium by taking the bronze.

"I felt particularly strong today and the conditions were perfect, despite the fog," said Cielser.

"I gave everything and am amazed myself.

"I never reached such a level before," Cielser admitted.

The Slovakian venues of Štrbské Pleso and Osrblie are due to host Nordic and biathlon until February 1, before attention turns to Granada, Spain, which will stage Alpine Skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, speed skating and snowboarding events from February 4.

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