Lilia Vasilieva, centre of podium, was one of two Russian cross-country skiing winners here today ©Almaty 2017

Russia dominated the opening two cross-country skiing races at the 2017 Winter Universiade here in Almaty today.

Lilia Vasilieva powered to victory in the women's individual five kilometres event, before Valeriy Gontar won the gold medal in the men's 10km race to ensure Russian superiority.

The women’s race got proceedings underway as 64 athletes from 21 countries competed at a sun drenched Alatau cross-country skiing and biathlon complex.

Zhao Yuan of China posted the first time of 17min 47.6 sec, but it was obvious from Vasilieva’s early split times that she was on course to surpass it with ease.

Vasilieva, who studies at the Samara State University in Russia, opened her run with the third fastest time through 1.8km of 5:56.4.

She completed the middle part of the race quicker than anybody else, providing her with a platform to go on and take the gold.

The Russian crossed the line in a time of 14:08.6, 13.3 seconds quicker than her nearest rival.

Valeriy Gontar rounded off a fantastic opening day for the Russians as he won the men's 10km race ©Almaty 2017
Valeriy Gontar rounded off a fantastic opening day for the Russians as he won the men's 10km race ©Almaty 2017

Another Russian, Anna Nechaevskaya, took silver in 14:21.9 while Kazakhstan's Anna Shevchenko secured the hosts their first medal of the competition as she completed the podium in 14:23.8.

Gontar sealed a fantastic opening day for the Russians as he improved on his bronze medal at the 2015 Winter Universiade, held jointly in Granada in Spain and Štrbské Pleso in Slovakia.

The Russian, who studies at Penza State University, was in contention throughout the race and found himself second quickest through the first three checkpoints.

Dmitriy Rostovtsev, also of Russia, was the quickest throughout the early stages and held a three second lead over Gontar, but it was his compatriot’s burst of speed through the final five kilometres that propelled him to victory.

Gontar not only made up the deficit but also gained an advantage, crossing the line in 25:12.0.

Rostovtsev then followed, 8.9 seconds behind, in 25:20.9.

Frenchman Alexandre Pouye claimed the bronze medal in 25:33.8.