How did that happen? Three World Cup rounds have past already! The latest in Slovenia in lovely Pokljuka. The first race got underway on Thursday and was the Men’s Sprint.
It was a pretty lively affair too to kick off the weekend with Simon Schempp winning his second Sprint in a row and crucially out-shooting and out-skiing Martin Fourcade. Fourcade finished in 5th missing one shot. In second place was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who at 41 shows no sign of slowing down. Another perfect shoot saw him finish 15 seconds off the lead. Third place went to Evgeniy Garanichev who was just 0.2 of a second faster than teammate Alexey Slepov who achieved his best ever result in 4th. In fact the Russians had 5 biathletes in the Top 12 places. The Canadian Team also did well getting all their biathletes into the Pursuit with Christian Gow getting a personal best of 37th.
On Friday it was the Women’s turn and they served up yet another treat for us in the Sprint. Marie Dorin Habert claimed her first ever World Cup victory (hard to believe, right!) beating Laura Dahmeier by just 1.1 seconds. In third was Franziska Hildebrand maintaining her great form from Hochfilzen. In fact all 6 German women finished in the TOP 15 which is quite remarkable. They were joined in the TOP 15 by 3 Czechs (Vitkova, Soukalova and Puskarcikova) and 3 Poles (Guzik, Hojnisz and Gwizdon). Susan Dunklee got in on the action too in 6th with her best finish of the season so far. Hilde Fenne of Norway also got a personal best result in 18th.
Saturday saw the Men’s and Women’s Pursuit races and both of them turned into a neighbourhood feud between France and Germany! For the men it was Simon Schempp versus Martin Fourcade. Schempp was so impressive in his calmness in the shooting range and didn’t let the huge pressure applied by Fourcade put him off. He won with a clean shoot and really proved his credentials as an Overall Title contender. Fourcade had to settle for second after 1 miss and Anton Shipulin valiantly tried to catch up but was too far behind and took third.
For the Women the fight was between Laura Dahlmeier and Marie Dorin Habert. They were inseparable up until the lap before the final shoot where unfortunately Dorin Habert fell and couldn’t recover enough to challenge right up to the finish. Dahlmeier took her second win of the season and Kaisa Makarainen got herself onto the podium in third for some much needed points. The Germans may have won the battle but the French are ahead in the war with Fourcade and Dorin Habert both ending the day in the yellow bibs.
They weren’t the only ones to do well in the Pursuits however. Simon Fourcade went from 33rd to 10th continuing his amazing Pursuit form! Freddie Lindstrom went from 30th to 14th, Jean Guillaume Beatrix from 32nd to 15th, Dmytro Pidruchnyi from 43rd to 19th, Brendan Green from 46th to 30th, Vladimir Iliev from 50th to 37th even with a fall in the home straight! For the ladies Olga Pudchufarova went from 37th to 14th, Teja Gregorin from 47th to 21st,Olga Abramova from 52nd to 28th, Marte Olsbu 48th to 29th and Natalya Burdyga from 55th to 37th.
The first Mass Starts of the season rounded off the events in Pokljuka. The men were first and Jean Guillaume Beatrix was the only man to shoot 20/20 and won the race by 0.3 of a second from Emil Hegle Svendsen in a sprint finish. It was Jean-Gui’s first ever win on the World Cup and extremely well deserved as he probably would have won this same race last season if he hadn’t been “Shipulined” up the final hill! Bjoerndalen continued his remarkable form coming home third just beating Schempp in a photo finish. Andi Birnbacher (5th), Simon Desthieux (6th) and Dominik Windisch (10th) all got their best results of the season so far.
The women’s race ended the action before the Christmas break and was won in style by Kaisa Makarainen who managed victory even with 1 miss. Gabriela Soukalova shot clear to take second as did Olga Podchufarova who was third giving the Russian women’s team a much needed boost.
So that’s it 3 World Cup rounds down already and we go into the Christmas and New Year break with Martin Fourcade and Gabriela Soukalova in the yellow bibs! Biathlon is back on the 7th of January in Oberhof and I hope you have all asked Santa for some snow this Christmas!
Biathlon23 hopes you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Look out for a special post over the holidays – it’s a cracker!! 🙂
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