I Khanty believe it!

Can you believe it?! The last World Cup round has finished and the season is over already! Khanty-Mansiysk was the venue for round 9 of the biathlon World Cup and there were still a lot of things to settle. The deficit between Fourcade and Shipulin was 111 points coming into this round but much more exciting was the race for the overall title between the women with just 21 points separating Domracheva and Makarainen.

The first race was the Men’s Sprint and an outstanding performance from Martin Fouracde saw him secure the small Crystal Globe for the Sprint title and an almost unassailable lead in the total score of 117 points with 2 races remaining. He shot clean and fast to finish 13 seconds ahead of his season long rival Anton Shipulin. In third place was Benedikt Doll. He has had a really impressive season and got his first ever podium on the World Cup. In fact if he hadn’t missed on his standing shoot he possibly could have taken his first win. In fourth was Andrejs Rastorgujevs who just missed his first podium by 0.3 of a second! Another German Johannes Kuehn also got his personal best result in 10th.

The Women’s Sprint came next and with the Overall Title still up for grabs it was a tense affair. Kaisa Makarainen came out on top winning by 14.2 seconds from Laura Dahlmeier in second. They both missed 1 target but Domracheva missed 2 which proved costly and left her in third. This closed the gap between Dasha and Kaisa to just 9 points with the Pursuit and Mass Start remaining. Elsewhere the Germans had a good day with Dahlmeier’s podium, a 6th place for Preuss and 8th for Kummer. America’s Hannah Dreissigacker racked up another personal best result with 14th.

The next race was the Men’s Pursuit and we were treated to a brand new winner on the World Cup! Canada’s Nathan Smith took his first ever win at the age of 29 and capped off a fantastic season. He has worked really hard in the past few years to improve his skiing and it has paid off. In second was Benedikt Doll taking his second podium in a row and showing just what a great young talent he is. Third went to Anton Shipulin who finished ahead of Fourcade in fourth which meant that the Crystal Globe went to Martin for the 4th year in a row. A quite incredible achievement! “Chapeau” as they say in France!

The Women’s race was another nerve wracking event. Domracheva won and put herself in a great position to win the Overall Title. However she did almost throw it all away by going to shoot in the standing position on the second shoot when it should have been prone. Thankfully the shouts from the crowd helped her discover her error before it was too late. Too many errors was the problem for Makarainen though as she missed 3 shots to finish third. She did clinch the small globe for the Pursuit but just by 1 point. The rest of the podium was all German with Laura Dahlmeier edging out her teammate Franziska Preuss on the line to get another second place finish.

The final races of the season were the Mass Starts. In the Men’s race Jakov Fak proved why he is World Champion in this event by winning with clean shooting and a 10 second margin from Anton Shipulin. Poor Anton he was on the podium in every race here in Russia but couldn’t quite reach the top step. Nevermind he can console himself with the small Crystal Globe for coming first in the Mass Start standings. In third was Tarjei Boe continuing his good late season form. Martin Fourcade finished his season in 20th but the cause may have been too much champagne!;-)

The Women’s race went to Laura Dahlmeier who has had an incredible season and was her second win on the World Cup. Somehow she found the energy to beat Gabriela Soukalova to the line and Marie Dorin Habert was third. Franziska Preuss managed to finish ahead of Valj Semerenko to win the Mass Start globe. Darya Domracheva was fourth but it didn’t matter as she had done enough to win her first ever overall title.

So that’s it! The season is over. We have Martin Fourcade taking his fourth overall title and Darya Domracheva winning her first. What a season it has been with some great new talent coming through and great title fights especially from the women. What are we going to do until November? The season is finished already – I Khanty believe it!

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