Ruhpolding 2018: The Mass Starts!

Well, well, well we got a treat on the final day in Ruhpolding. Two mass starts and two brilliant races.

The men went first and conditions were good. The first two laps were a bit pedestrian with Martin Fourcade controlling a slow pace. When Anton Shipulin tried to break and go ahead it cost him dear as he missed his first shot on the prone.

Everyone looked tired today which is no surprise condsidering the schedule. I think everyone was happy with the pace on the first two loops. At the front many biathletes hit 20/20 on the prone and so most of the field was still in contention for the win.

It was on the third loop that Martin Fourcade increased the pace a bit hoping to shake off some of the pack. That plan went well until he got to the shooting range. Johanned Boe rattled off 5 perfect shots and left before he could see Martin miss two.

That would ruin most people’s race but not for Fourcade. Boe was followed out of the range by Simon Schempp, Antonin Guigonnat, Simon Eder, Jakov Fak and Erik Lesser.

At the final shoot Johannes missed 1 target as did Schempp. Guigonnat cleared to make it 20/20 for him and left in second place behind Boe. Quentin Fillon Maillet cleared to find himself in third but Fourcade also hit 5 to come out just behind him. Fourcade fought hard on the final loop passing French teammates Maillet and Guigonnat but he couldn’t catch Johannes.

Guigonnat held on to third to take his second podium of the season thanks to being in bib 23! Fillon Maillet was 4th, Tarjei Boe was 5th and Simon Schempp was 6th. Along with Guigonnat, Michal Slesingr hit 20/20 to finish 8th and Jakov Fak did the same in 10th.

The women’s race was even better (as it usually is in fact!). Kaisa Makarainen took her first win of the season and the yellow bib from Kuzmina but she had to work really hard for it. At the first prone Kaisa missed one target. Others had a great start like Rosanna Crawford, Darya Domracheva and Dorothea Wierer who shot clean on the first two prone shoots.

At the third shoot Domracheva and Wierer missed but Crawford hit 5 to lead the race. She was followed by Kaisa and Laura Dahlmeier who both got all 5 targets. Dahlmeier, Makarainen and Domarcheva caught Crawford before the final shoot but then they all missed targets and Rosanna cleared again to take a 16 second lead. She hit all 50 targets this week over three competitions which is amazing.

However she couldn’t compete on the tracks with the top two who caught her with 800 metres to go. It was a ski race to the finish and Kaisa took it on the line winning by 0.8 of a second! In the end Crawford couldn’t hold on for the podium and she was passed by Veronika Vitkova who took third with 18/20.

Crawford was 4th to cap a fabulous World Cup round for her. Denise Hermman was 5th despite 4 misses and Domracheva was 6th. Rosanna Crawford was also the only woman in the field to hit 20/20.

Now we move to Antholz. Racing starts on Thursday for the final races before the Olympics. Kaisa Makarainen and Martin Fourcade will wear the yellow bibs.

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