Oberhof 2017: The Mass Starts!

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Just like a plate of Thüringer Klöße (potato dumplings) or Thüringer Rostbratwurst we were treated to a very tasty final day in Oberhof! The Mass Starts are generally great to watch and these were no exception. It also gave the home fans a lot to cheer about.

The men raced first and thankfully the foggy conditions were not bad enough to have an effect on the race. The first part of the race was very close with most of the top biathletes hitting 10/10 in the prone position. It was in the first standing shoot were we saw most of the action with only Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Erik Lesser shooting clear to leave them in the lead.

Surprisingly Martin Fourcade missed 2 shots and Simon Schemmp missed 1 to leave them in a chasing group along with Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Emil Svendsen. Fourcade put it a great lap on the skis to catch up however and the tables were turned on the final shoot. This time Lesser and Bjoerndalen both missed 1 shot while Fourcade, Schempp and Beatrix shot clean. So there was a group of five heading into the fianl lap and Fouracde tried to break them on the first uphill.

His plan didn’t work however as Schempp kept pace with him all the way and with one less penalty loop in his legs looked the fresher of the two. He overtook Fourcade in the finishing straight to grab the victory in front of his home fans and Erik Lesser made up a lot of ground in the final kilometre to ski past Beatrix and then beat Fourcade on the line in a sprint finish. They were awarded the same time but Lesser will be pleased he didn’t cut his toenails as that’s the distance he took second by! Fourcade doesn’t have much luck in sprint finishes but possibly because he usually wins by a big margin and doesn’t get to practice them much! 😉

Beatrix was 4th after a good race although he tired at the end trying to keep pace with Fourcade. Ole Einar came home 5th ahead of another German in 6th Benedikt Doll.

The women’s race was less exciting but with some high quality performances especially from the eventual winner Gabriela Koukalova. She shot the perfect score 20/20 to win the race by more than 30 seconds. Laura Dahlmeier returned to racing after missing the sprint and pursuit and took second which was the best result she could hope for after missing 1 target. Third place went to Eva Puskarcikova who followed her teammate Koukalova by hitting all 20 targets. Kaisa Makarianen missed 4 targets on the first prone shoot and 7 in total but still finished 8th.

Marie Dorin Habert also missed 7 targets and was 14th. Susan Dunklee had a good race finishing 9th and Rosanna Crawford was 25th meaning she had 3 Top 25 results in Oberhof after a difficult start to the season. Chardine Sloof proved her Sprint result was no fluke by finishing 15th which means she was in the Top 15 in all three races.

These results mean a change at the top of the standings in the women’s overall. With Dahlmeier missing 2 races and Koukalova grabbing 174 points in the three races it means she is now at the top and takes the yellow bib to Ruhpolding. Makarainen is third and Dorin Habert 4th but there are only 53 points separating the top 4! Very exciting! Martin Fourcade still holds a comfortable lead in the men’s overall but he only won one of the three races here in Oberhof! He is rubbish! 😉

Take a little rest while you can as World Cup 5 starts in Ruhpolding on Wednesday with the Men’s Relay!!!

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