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Police complaints over cross-country skiing clash

Russian skier Aleksandr Bolshunov collided with Finland's Joni Mäki after the completion of the World Cup relay race.

Aleksandr Bolshunov yritti huitaista Joni Mäkeä sauvalla.
Russian skier Aleksandr Bolshunov appeared to use his ski poles to whip Finland's Joni Mäki. Image: Tomi Hänninen

Russian skier and four-time Olympic medalist Aleksandr Bolshunov is the subject of two criminal reports filed with the Häme Police Department following an incident at the end of the men’s cross-country skiing relay race at the Lahti Ski Games on Sunday.

Bolshunov appeared to whip Finnish skier Joni Mäki with his ski pole and then deliberately collided with Mäki after the pair had crossed the finish line.

Detective Inspector Martti Hirvonen confirmed that two separate reports have been received over the incident.

Mäki held off a late challenge from Bolshunov to help Finland finish second in the relay race, but the Russian skier seemed aggrieved that Mäki blocked his line in the final straight.

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Video: Joni Mäki STT 24.1.2021

The Russian team were subsequently disqualified from the race for "unsportsmanlike behaviour" over Bolshunov’s actions and Häme police are now probing whether there are conditions for the launch of a preliminary investigation.

"It was hard to watch. That doesn't belong here. This was a disgrace to the whole Russian team, especially Bolshunov," Norwegian skier Emil Iversen said of the incident.

World governing body International Ski Federation (FIS) may also take further action against Bolshunov, who is currently the world's top-ranked cross-country skier.

Executive Director of the Finnish Ski Association Ismo Hämäläinen told Yle he will be writing to FIS about the incident.

"The first thing, of course, is that this act is completely reprehensible. Coming into contact with an opponent at that point, after the finish line. Also, whipping with the pole has previously led to written warnings at various competitions," Hämäläinen said.

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