Hurrah for Antholz! Real snow and lots of it and amazing scenery to enjoy on the way around the tracks. In unchivalrous style it was gentlemen first as we began round 6 with the Men’s Sprint. After winning last year’s sprint here in a tie with home boy Lukas Hofer, Simon Schempp decided that he was sick of sharing and decided to win the race for himself! A fantastic display by the German saw him shoot clean and with the second fastest ski time he wrapped up victory in some style. Behind him came Evgeniy Garanichev who replaced Anton Shipulin as top Russian for the day and after him came Jakov Fak in third. Fak did have the opportunity to win this race but missed his last shot in the standing and so had to settle for the bottom step of the podium. Benjamin Weger continued his fine form with his best result of the season and Brendan Green got his best result ever coming in fifth.
The women got underway on Friday and there was no stopping Darya Domracheva who shot clean and took another victory from second place Kaisa Makarainen. In third was Laura Dahlmeier who stood on the podium for the first time on the World Cup. There were also career bests for Lena Haecki in 12th and another German Luise Kummer in 13th.
Next came the Pursuit races and the men’s was quite a treat! The lead changed several times due to missed shots but in the end it came down to another close finish and Simon Schempp came out on top again. This time he just pipped Simon Eder and Garanichev in second and third. That made it a double double for Schempp in Antholz as he repeated his Sprint and Pursuit victories from last season. The women’s race saw Darya Domracheva sweep majestically round the tracks as she won easily. The other podium positions however was were all the excitement was at. A highly impressive Daria Virolaynen was second and Kaisa Makarainen was third despite missing 5 targets! She out skied Hildebrand on the last loop to prevent the German getting on the podium. It was incredible skiing from Kaisa once again.
Others who made a big impression in the Pursuit races were Martin Fourcade who made up 20 places from 25th to 5th. Erik Lesser came from 19th to 6th, Daniel Boehm went from 30th to 12th and Austria’s Sven Grossegger started 54th and finished 27th. On the women’s side the amazing Marie Dorin Habert went from 19th to 5th and Yana Romanova also did well coming from 42nd to 27th.
On the final day we had the Relays. The men started us off and Norway had a pretty comfortable journey to victory shooting and skiing really well. Simon Schempp anchored the Germans to second capping off a great couple of weeks for himself and France minus Martin Fourcade completed the podium in third. The women went in the afternoon and were unlucky with the conditions as they suffered from strong winds which affected the shooting range. The German ladies coped best and a very composed final leg from Laura Dalmeier secured them the win. In second came the ever impressive Czech Republic and Ukraine won the battle with Russia to come in third.
So the World Cup now moves on to Nove Mesto and begins again on the 6th of February. The race for the men’s overall title is heating up with Schempp moving up to second and closing in on Martin Fourcade. Domracheva has also closed the gap on Makarainen after a fruitful weekend of racing for the chasers. The season is getting exciting again after what looked like a procession for Fourcade and Makarainen. Both now have serious challengers for the big Crystal globes. Domracheva and Schempp are looking in good form and will take a lot of confidence from their Tyrolean Triumphs!
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