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Cross-country skier Niskanen takes bronze in 15km men's classic

The Finnish champ turned on his afterburner to full power towards the end of Wednesday's race in Seefeld, Austria but was disappointed after placing third.

Iivo Niskanen during Wednesday's 15km men's classic at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria. Image: AOP

Finnish cross-country skier Iivo Niskanen came in third in the 15km mens classic race at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships on Wednesday, winning a bronze medal.

At the nine kilometre mark Niskanen was still lagging behind the leaders in sixth place, but he boosted his speed for the remainder of the tight race. He was beaten by Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby who came in first place and Russian Aleksandr Bessmertnykh who placed second.

Niskanen beat fourth-place contestant, Russia's Andrei Larkov, by 2.4 seconds.

Even though he did well in the race, Niskanen, who's a two-time Olympic champion, appeared to be anything but satisfied.

The 27-year-old said he missed his chance to win a gold medal because of the skis he used.

"A medal is a medal"

"I guess I chose between gold and bronze when I picked my skis today. They glided well but they didn't grip at all. It didn't go at all to plan. I couldn't have done any better today," the distraught bronze-winner told Yle.

Even though he felt his equipment failed him, Niskanen's good physical condition helped him reach the winner's podium."I had enough energy and the race was hard, but I managed to get everything out of me that I could. A medal is a medal, but a bronze is annoying when everything feels good," he said.

Niskanen's coach Olli Ohtonen was much happier about the race, however.

"Iivo's finish was great, and the fact that he managed to pass two skiers towards the end was, too. We can only be happy, a medal is a medal. It was a very good competition," Ohtonen said right after the race.

Men's 15km classic results

1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby NOR 38.22.6 (mm:ss.ms)
2. Alexander Bessmertnyk RUS +2.9
3. Iivo Niskanen FIN +20.4
4. Andrei Larkov RUS +22.8
5. Didrik Tönseth NOR +24.3

Other Finnish skiers in the race included Perttu Hyvärinen (+1.54.2) in 19th place, Ristomatti Hakola (+2.28.2 ) in 29th, Anssi Pentsinen (+2.48.5) came in 32nd and Joni Mäki in 52nd place (+4.11.8).