Typical isn’t it! You wait years for a victory and then you get two in row. The Czech Republic Women’s Relay team are doing an excellent impression of a bus! Seriously though it shows just how remarkable this small country is when it comes to biathlon. They are now reaping the reward for years of hard work and planning. Germany seems to be a happy hunting ground for the Czech ladies who took victory in Ruhpoling to add to that of Oberhof. It was a race that took place in pretty miserable conditions. Sleet and rain meant it was a wet and slow race with deteriorating tracks. That won’t bother the Czechs though who were on the top step of the podium followed by Belarus also for the second race in succession. Germany delighted the home crowd by coming in third.
The conditions for the Men’s relay were much improved and so in turn was the racing. A close finish saw the wily fox that is Emil Svendsen pick his moment perfectly to move past Simon Schempp and deny Germany a home victory. In third place came Russia. It was Norway’s first Men’s relay win since December 2013. Some of the other teams got involved for a while with Lowell Bailey putting USA in first after the first leg. Then it was Slovenia’s turn in the second leg with Jakov Fak. In the end though the big nations rose to the top. There were some good performances from some of the younger athletes like Rok Trsan of Slovenia, Sean Doherty from the USA and Great Britain’s Scott Dixon.
The Women’s Sprint came on Friday and threw up a surprise in the form of Fanny Welle-Strand Horn of Norway. She shot clear and out skied Darya Domracheva to take her first World Cup win. In third was fellow Norwegian Tiril Eckhoff. It was another tough day on the range for overall leader Kaisa Makarainen who missed 2 shots. Canada’s Megan Heinicke got her top World Cup finish to date coming in 11th and France’s Marie Dorin Habert was 15th and considering she had a baby 4 months ago that is quite a remarkable feat.
In the Men’s Sprint there was a very unusual occurence. This strange white stuff fell down from the sky. Some have speculated that it may be the illusive substance known as snow but reports could neither confirm or deny this! Anyway it didn’t stop Johannes Boe winning the race. When that boy is on form there are very few biathletes who can beat him. He is the epitome of ‘go hard or go home’ because he has only come first or off the podium in all the races he has done. He has never had a second or third place to date. Simon Schempp was second and Arnd Peiffer third keeping the home crowd happy. Canada did well again with Brendan Green in 16th and Scott Gow getting his best finish so far in 27th.
The last day of Ruhpolding was definitely the best! The Women’s Mass Start was very entertaining with Darya Domracheva yo-yoing back and forward up the field to eventually secure the win. Second went to Germany’s Franziska Preuss who got on the podium for the first time on the World Cup with her best career performance so far. Third came down to a sprint which was won by Veronika Vitkova ahead of Valj Semerenko and Anais Bescond. Speaking of close finishes the Men’s Mass Start was even better. A three way photo finish gave Simon Schempp the victory that has so far eluded him this season as he just edged out Quentin Fillon Maillet and Michal Slesingr. It was Fillon Maillet’s best result on the World Cup. Johannes Boe would have been in with a chance of winning again as he shot clear like the Top 3 but a bad fall along with Jakov Fak put him out of contention.
Elsewhere it was a bad weekend by his standards for Martin Fourcade who came in 26th in the Sprint and 21st in the Mass Start allowing both Shipulin and Schempp to eat into his overall lead. Makarainen also lost some of her lead to Domracheva put still maintains a healthy margin in the yellow bib. We go uphill next to the altitude race in Antholz and hopefully we will be treated to more of the same. I have to say I was pleased to see Simon Schempp finally getting the victory all his great form has deserved and he managed by a toenail to Ruh-pold on to the win!!!
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