Russians take out Kangaroo HoppetPICTURES

Alexander Legkov on his way to his second consecutive Kangaroo Hoppet title. Mount Beauty dual Olympian Esther Bottomley finished fifth in Saturday’s Hoppet and hopes for a third Olympics in Sochi next year.

Alexander Legkov, favourite for the gold at the Sochi Olympics, made it back-to back in the Kangaroo Hoppet.

Father and son team Wilson and Peter Cranage compete in the Joey Hoppet.

IT was a Russian double in an all-international podium at the Kangaroo Hoppet on Saturday.

Last year’s winner, World Cup distance champion and Olympic gold medal favourite Alexander Legkov won the men’s race and last year’s runner-up Marina Chernousova took out the women’s event.

Russians brothers Ilya Chernousov and Alexey Chernousov rounded out the men’s podium at Falls Creek, while Lauren Fritz from the US and Chisa Obayashi from Japan were second and third for the women.

The first Australians were Callum Watson and Esther Bottomley, who both finished fifth.

The Russian team has been training at Falls Creek for the past three weeks as part of their preparation for next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Finn Marsland said the race was held in near perfect conditions after weather and road closures threatened the event.

All races were delayed an hour to allow competitors to get past a landslip on the Bogong High Plains Road on Friday.

Marlsand said the two favourites in the men’s Legkov and Ilya Chernousov attacked early, splitting the main pack.

“Valerio Leccardi from Switzerland and Alexey Chernousov also broke away on the “Paralyser” climb, but then were caught by Australians Watson and Alex Almoukov,” he said.

“This chase pack of four skied much of the race together with the top-two Russians slowly extending their lead.

“Watson attacked near the last drink station, taking Leccardi with him, then Alexey bridged across as Almoukov was dropped.

“Up front Legkov left his teammate behind and skied away for a comfortable win.”

Marsland said Chernousova led from the start in the women’s event.

“She and Obayashi went out hard, leaving the rest of the women scattered among the men’s field,” he said.

In the 21-kilometre Australian Birkebeiner Damon Morton from Marlo came from behind to win ahead of Jackson Bursill from Canberra and Daniel Walker from Sydney.

Mount Beauty junior Anna Trnka won the women’s event for the second year in a row ahead of Casey Wright from Melbourne and Aislinn Kildea from Wangaratta.

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