This weekend saw the 5th and 6th Round of the FIM Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship take place in Shadrinsk, Russia.
A complete packed stadium saw some competitive racing, and whilst current world champion, Danii Ivanov (RUS) still leads the overall competition, his lead has been reduced as he failed to win either day's final, first by being eliminated in the semi-final on Saturday and on Sunday crashing out and therefore coming last in the final.
Instead it was Dmitry Khomitsevich (RUS) who took the Gold in Round 5 and a Bronze in Round 6 whilst Igor Kononov (RUS) who took first place in Round 6. Dinar Valeev (RUS) who took two Silvers and Dmitry Koltakov (RUS) who took the Bronze on Saturday.
It means that in the overall classification the top three are separated by just nine points, with Ivanov (104 pts), Khomitsevich (100 pts) and Valeev (95 pts) making it a Russians 1-2-3 at the moment.
The top three westerners are also tightly bunched together in 6th to 8th in the overall table separated by only 5 points, with Harald Simon (AUT) leading Johan Weber (GER) and Martin Haarahiltunen (SWE).
Simon owes that lead to a great start in Round 1 in Almaty but found the going tough this weekend in Shadrinsk.
However, German Weber had an outstanding weekend, especially on Saturday where he overtook the world champion, Ivanov in the semi to take a final place in impressive style. That made him the only westerner to have had two finals so far this year. On Sunday his enthusiasm cost him another final place he overcooked it and crashed out of the semi.
Haarahiltunen had a mixed weekend. On Saturday he was not is usual self and the frustration and disbelief could be seen when in his last heat of the day he was overtaken on the line, not by one, but two riders, turning a guaranteed 2 points into 0 in the blink of an eye. The Swede lay back on his bike in sheer disbelief on a day when he collected only 5 points which made him last of the Swedish contingent.
On Sunday however, he was back to his usual tricks and was able to fight his was up into his fourth semi-final of this year's series.
The Ice Gladiators tournament will take a rest for a month now, but will return on 13 and 14 March with the first races of the year in Germany.
(Photo is Dmitry Khomitsevich from the World Championships in Sweden in 2013).