Don’t worry you haven’t woken up back in 2019! The Open European Championships were meant to be in Otepaa, Estonia but due to lack of snow there they were switched to Minsk which held them last year too. Coincidentally Minsk doesn’t have any snow either but they do have a magic bag of snow that they can sprinkle out to resemble a track!
The first day was for the Super Sprint. If you don’t follow the IBU Cup you may not be familiar with this newer format. Basically there are two races – a shortened sprint race (3km) which all the biathletes start and then a shortened mass start (5km) with the top 30 finishers from the sprint. In both the qualification and the final you can use one spare round per shoot and the penalty loop is 75 metres.
Topping the men’s qualifying sprint was Anton Smolski and the final qualifier was Vasilii Tomshin in 30th place. In the final it was Sergey Bocharnikov who took gold at home in an exciting finish. It was a sprint for the line between 3 biathletes with Adam Vaclavik taking silver and Dmytro Pidruchnyi taking bronze. The top two both hit 20/20 but Pirdruchnyi had one miss.
In the women’s qualification it was Dzinara Alimbekava who was fastest and Natalja Kocergina who got the last spot in 30th. In the final it was Evgeniya Pavlova who took the win and the gold medal ahead of Olena Pidhrushna in second and Chloe Chevalier in third. All three women hit 20/20.
Thursday was relay day and we had the Single Mixed followed by the Mixed. The Single Mixed gold medal went to Norway with the team of Karoline Erdal and Endre Stroemsheim. They used 12 spares but were fast on the skis. The silver medal went to Germany with Stefanie Scherer and Justus Strelow who used just 5 spares. Bronze went to Ukraine’s Anastasiya Merkushyna and Ruslan Tkalenko with 7 spares required.
The Mixed Relay saw the very experienced Ukraine team take gold. Valj Semerenko, Yuliia Dzhima, Artem Pryma and Dmytro Pidruchnyi used 9 spares to take the win. Silver went to Russia with a team of Kristina Reztsova, Victoria Slivko, Eduard Latypov and Said Khalili also with 9 spares used. Norway eventually took bronze after a protest from Belarus saw them disqualified and reinstated on appeal! The team of Aasne Skrede, Ida Lien, Sivert Bakken and Aleksander Andersen used just 4 spares.
Friday was a day off for Minsk sightseeing! Saturday was Sprint day and it was Matvey Eliseev who struck gold for Russia. He hit 9/10 to take the win by just 4 seconds ahead of Andrejs Rastorgujevs who also hit 9/10 to take the silver medal. Bronze went to Aleksander Andersen who also missed one target.
In the women’s sprint it was Elisabeth Hoegberg who took the win with 9/10 to claim gold for Sweden. She finished 14 seconds ahead of the clean shooting Ida Lien. Home favourite Iryna Kryuko won bronze with 9/10.
The final medals were decided on Sunday in the two pursuit races. The Championships finished off how they started with gold for Belarus but this time it was double!
In the men’s pursuit Sergey Bocharnikov came from 5th to claim his second gold after winning the Super Sprint. He hit 18/20 to finish ahead of the Norwegian pair of Sturla Laegreid and Sivert Bakken. Laegreid came from 12th also hitting 18/20 for silver and Bakken came from 20th to take bronze with 18/20 too!
In the women’s pursuit it was Elena Kruchinkina who took gold for the home nation. She hit the perfect 20/20 to move from 11th all the way to first. Kristina Reztsova was second with 18/20 to take silver and Elisabeth Hoegberg stayed on the podium dropping to third and a bronze medal with 17/20.
The action now moves to erm… Minsk for the last IBU Cup of the year on the 4th of March! Not too far to travel for that one! 😉
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