As is becoming more and more common the women’s World Cup was again more exciting and more closely fought than the men’s. The eventual winner was Laura Dahlmeier. She won a total of 10 races and has been the outstanding biathlete on the Women’s World Cup.
She didn’t have it all her own way though. In the Total Score Dahlmeier finished with 1211 points. Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova with 1089 points and Kaisa Makarainen was third with 971 points.
Laura won the small crystal globe in the Pursuit and the Individual but despite leading in the Sprint and Mass Start standings she lost them both to Koukalova at the final World Cup round. Gabi won the Sprint Title by 5 points and the Mass Start Title by 9 so you can see how close the competitions were.
Rookie of the year went to Sweden’s Hanna Öberg who was 47th in the Total Score with 128 points and had three Top 10 finishes.
It was not an easy task for Dahlmeier to win the big crystal globe and that started back at the end of November in Oestersund. The Individual was the first race and was won by Dahlmeier with Anais Bescond in second and a surprise in third with Darya Yurkevich getting her first ever podium. The Sprint was next and this time Marie Dorin Habert took first place from Kaisa Makarainen in second and Gabriela Koukalova in third. The Pursuit race went to Koukalova with Dahlmeier in second and Dorothea Wierer in third. With all the big guns looking in good form it was an exciting start to the season.
We then headed to Pokljuka where this time Dahlmeier won the Sprint from Justine Braisaz in second and Marte Olsbu in third. Dahlmeier made it a double in the Pursuit followed by Kaisa Makarainen and Eva Puskarcikova who took her first ever podium finish in third.
Next came Nove Mesto and we had a brand new winner of the Sprint with Tatiana Akimova winning her first race. Anais Chevalier came second to get her first podium finish and Susan Dunklee was third. In the Pursuit Chevalier moved up a place to win the first race of her career. Wierer was second and Akimova third. Two new winners that weekend was great for the Women’s World Cup. The Mass Start belonged to Koukalova in front of her home crowd with Dahlmeier second and Wierer third.
After the Christmas break it was on to Oberhof and Koukalova took another victory this time in the Sprint with Makarainen second and Dorin Habert third. Dahlmeier chose to miss the first two races here and the Pursuit went to Dorin Habert with Koukalova second and Makarainen third. Koukalova won the Mass Start with Dahlmeier returning to race coming second and Eva Puskarcikova coming third for the second time this season.
We remained in Germany but moved to Ruhpolding for round 5. Makarainen took her first win of the season in the Sprint from Koukalova in second and Dahlmeier in third. Kaisa made it a double by winning the Pursuit with Koukalova second again and Dorin Habert in third.
The last World Cup before the World Championships was in Antholz where Dahlmeier won the Individual with Chevalier in second and Alexia Runggaldier taking her first ever podium finish in front of her home crowd. The Mass Start saw Nadine Horchler win her first ever race on the World Cup coming from 30th to 1st. Dahlmeier finished second and Koukalova third.
The World Championships were dominated by Dahlmeier. The first race was the Sprint and it was the only race she didn’t win! Gabriela Koukalova took this one winning her first gold medal at a World Championships. Dahlmeier got the silver with Anais Chevalier taking bronze. In the Pursuit it was gold for Dahlmeier and Darya Domracheva surprised everyone by winning the silver coming from 27th to 2nd. The bronze went to Koukalova. The Individual was Dahlmeier’s too this time with silver going to Koukalova and bronze to Alexia Runggaldier. The Mass Start was Laura’s 3rd individual gold medal, Susan Dunklee got the silver and Kaisa Makarainen the bronze. Dahlmeier also won 2 more gold in the relays and so from six races she won 5 gold medals and 1 silver. Amazing!
She was to continue her great form at the Olympic test event in PyeongChang winning the Sprint and the Pursuit. Tiril Eckhoff got her first podium of the season coming second in the Sprint with Anais Chevalier in third. Makarainen was second in the Pursuit with Anais Bescond in third.
Kontiolahti was next for World Cup 8. This time it was Eckhoff who won the Sprint finishing ahead of Dahlmeier to win her first race of the season. Dahlmeier did enough however to win her first ever Overall Title and the big crystal globe. Darya Domracheva was third. The Pursuit was won by Dahlmeier with Marie Dorin Habert in second and Lisa Vittozzi getting her first podium on the World Cup in third.
The final round was held in Holmenkollen, Oslo. We had a new winner in the Sprint race with Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever World Cup race. Second place went to Justine Braisaz and teammate Anais Bescond was third. Laukkanen did the double winning the Pursuit too with Koukalova in second and Braisaz third. The final race of the season was the Mass Start which home favourite Tiril Eckhoff won. Koukalova took second to secure the Mass Start Title and Kaisa Makarainen was third.
Strangely with such a competitive women’s field all the Women’s Relays were won by one team and that was Germany. The Mixed Relays went to Norway and France on the World Cup and Germany at the World Championships.
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