By Nick Butler

Russia celebrate yet another cross country gold medal at the Winter Universiade this time in the men's relay ©FISURussia consolidated their domination in cross country and biathlon events at the Winter Universiade in Štrbstké Pleso, Slovakia, although they were edged by Japanese opposition in the mixed team ski jumping.

The first gold of the day went to Oxana Usatova, Viktoria Karkina and Svetlana Nikolaeva in the women's 3x5 kilometres classic cross country, with the trio's time of 47:47.1 proving too strong for Kazakhstan's Anna Stoyan, Viktoriya Lanchakova and Anastassiya Slonova.

They finished second, 43.6 seconds behind, while France picked up their first medal of the Games with bronze.

"We started in ninth position [out of 13 teams] and it was a difficult race - especially because of the track and weather which made the race more complicated," said Russian captain Usatova.

"Our strategy was quite simple, we started more relaxed and then we went for it.

"We are very happy about the gold medal and I would like to thank Svetlana and Viktoria, I am very satisfied with their performance."

Russia's men soon emulated their female counterparts by comfortably beating Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic in the 4x7.5km classic/free relay.

Andrey Feller, Artem Nikolaev, Raul Shakirzianov and Andrey Larkov finished in a superb 1:22:49.0 to win by almost two minutes from the Kazakhs, with the Czechs a further minute behind. 

Russia's third success of the day soon followed when they claimed the biathlon mixed relay team event, with Kristina Smirnova, Evgeniya Pavlova, Vadim Filimonov and Yuri Shopin combining pacy skiing with faultless shooting to consign Kazakhstan to yet another silver.

The Central Asian nation finished 33 seconds behind in a course in which each man covered 7.5km and each women 6km, while Ukraine took bronze.

But Russia were denied a clean sweep of the gold medals when Japanese siblings Yuka and Junshiro Kobayashi leapt to mixed team ski jumping success.

Japan inflicted a rare defeat on Russia in the mixed team ski jumping competition ©FISUJapan inflicted a rare defeat on Russia in the mixed team ski jumping competition

The duo triumphed with 202.4 points in a competition which consisted of only one jump after heavy snowfall forced the postponement of the first round.

But they held their nerve to finish comfortably clear of Russia's Anastasia Gladdysheva and Mikhail Maksimochin, while the podium was completed by a second Japanese pairing, Aki Macuhashi and Kanta Takanashi.

Events in Štrbstké Pleso and Orsible, Slovakia, are set to draw to a close on Sunday (February 1), before Granada, Spain, assumes its role as co-hosts for the Winter Universiade from February 4.

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