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Season Review 2018/19: The Women!

WOW! What a year we had on the women’s World Cup! We had 12 different winners, 6 brand new winners and an amazing battle between Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi which kept us hooked all season. For the second year in row the title was won in the very last race of the season!

In the end it was Dorothea Wierer who won the Overall Title but it was far from easy! She finished the season with 904 points. Vittozzi was second with 882 points and Anastasiya Kuzmina was third with 870 points.

The season began in Pokljuka with the Individual and Yuliia Dzhima got the season rolling with her first win on the World Cup. Last year’s champion Kaisa Makarainen looked really good at the opening round winning the following two races; the sprint and pursuit.

Wierer got her fantastic season underway with her first win of the new campaign in the Hochfilzen sprint. Makarainen took the pursuit and was at the top of the standings.

However in Nove Mesto Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, got her first World Cup win in the sprint and then her second in the pursuit. It would be the foundation for her best ever season. Anastasiya Kuzmina won the mass start.

In Oberhof we got another first time winner and this time it was Lisa Vittozzi who did the sprint and pursuit double. She had been in and around the top 5 all season up until then when she finally made her big breakthrough and was well on her way to a shot at the big crystal globe.

Ruhpolding was the venue for Kuzmina’s second win of the season in the sprint. Home favourite Franziska Preuss won the mass start taking her first gold medal on the World Cup.

Antholz was next up and there was yet another debut World Cup victory this time from Marketa Davidova in the sprint. Wierer took her second win at home in the pursuit.

Canmore saw races cancelled but Tiril Eckhoff managed to win the shortened individual race. In Soldier Hollow Roeiseland took her third win of the season in the sprint throwing her into the mix for the yellow bib with the two Italians. Denise Herrmann got her third career victory in the pursuit.

The World Championships in Oestersund gave us four different winners in the four individual competitions and all debut winners of a World title! The sprint went to Anastasiya Kuzmina despite being unwell. Denise Herrmann won the pursuit, Hanna Oberg won the individual on home soil and Dorothea Wierer took the mass start.

Everything came down to Holmenkollen. There were still 3 women in serious contention to win the big crystal globe; Wierer and Vittozzi, who started the round on equal points, and Kuzmina. In the sprint it was Anastasiya Kuzmina who came out all guns blazing to take the win.

Lisa Vittozzi had a terrible race failing to score any points and she didn’t qualify for the pursuit either. Wierer took the overall lead after finishing 11th. Kuzmina also won the pursuit while Wierer was 12th so everything went down to the mass start.

All three women struggled after a long hard season. It was Hanna Oberg who won the race taking her first win on the World Cup. Kuzmina was 10th, Vittozzi 11th and Wierer 12th and that meant the overall title belonged to Wierer and the big crystal globe was on it’s way to Italy for the first time!

The small globes were shared around with Vittozzi taking the individual title, Kuzmina winning the sprint, Wierer the pursuit and Oberg the mass start.

Rookie of the season was Evgeniya Pavlova.

Relays
The women’s relays were much like the rest of the women’s season with four different winners in the first four races. Italy won in Hochfilzen, Russia in Oberhof, France in Ruhpolding and Germany in Canmore. However at World Championships it was Norway who came out on top with a team of Synnoeve Solemdal, Ingrid Tandrevold, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Roeiseland.

There were only two single mixed relays on the World Cup which France won in Pokljuka, and Italy in Soldier Hollow. The first ever World title in the event went to Norway with a team of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Johannes Boe.

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Holmenkollen 2019: The Pursuits!

Well, well, well someone knows how to finish their career in style! Anastasiya Kuzmina was untouchable in the pursuit making it look easy!!! What a performance! She shot 20/20 and won the race by 1 minute and 42 seconds. She has one race left, the mass start, and who would bet against her winning that one too.

Luckily we had a bit of action behind Kuzmina. It was Franziska Pruess and Celia Aymonier who were chasing her after the first prone but teammate Paulina Fialkova missed 2 to put her out of the running.

However on the second prone both Preuss and Aymonier missed and so it was left to the Swedes Elisabeth Hoegberg and Linn Persson to take up the chase in second and third after going 10/10 in the prone. They were followed closely by Tiril Eckhoff, Denise Herrmann and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland.

Herrmann and Persson celaned on the first stand to take second and third. Another Swede Hanna Oberg moved into 4th just ahead of Clare Egan, Eckhoff and Hoegberg.

As usual it was shoot 4 that decided the places. Herrmann, Persson and Oberg all missed 1 while Egan and Eckhoff missed 2 and Hoegberg missed 3. Roeiseland cleaned.

In the end it was Herrmann who kept second place with Hanna Oberg third. Persson was beaten in a sprint finish by Roeiseland who took 4th but it was still a personal best for Persson in 5th. Eckhoff was 6th.

Elsewhere Kaisa Makarainen went from 32nd to 8th and Anais Bescond from 52nd to 25th. Thelka Brun-Lie got a PB in 23rd as did Janina Hettich in 32nd.

Dorothea Wierer was 12th and so won the crystal globe for the pursuit and further extended her lead in the total score.

LEGEND ALERT! History was made in the men’s race with Johannes Thingnes Boe winning his 15th race of the season! He broke the previous record of 14 for most wins in a single season. It also won him the pursuit crystal globe. Amazing!

He started the race well cleaning the first prone and looked comfortable out front. He was followed by Lukas Hofer, Bendikt Doll and big brother Tarjei. To make it exciting Johannes missed 2 in the second prone but Tarjei and Hofer cleaned and so reduced his lead significantly. Behind them came Arnd Peiffer, Vetle Christiansen and Felix Leitner.

At the first standing shoot Johannes cleaned and so did Tarjei. Leitner moved into third after hitting 15/15. At the final shoot both brothers missed 1 and went on to finish in first and second for another Boe-dium! Leitner and Peiffer cleaned.

Unfortunately Peiffer was stronger on the tracks than Leitner and he took third but it was still a personal best for the Austrian youngster in 4th. Christiansen was 5th and Hofer 6th.

Sean Doherty went from 32nd to 11th, Lucas Fratzscher went from 31st to 15th for a PB and Andrejs Rastogujevs went from 49th to 21st.

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Oestersund 2019: The Mass Starts!

MEATBALLS! I have left the most delicious part of my Swedish theme until last and so did the Italians! Buon appetito!

Dorothea Wierer made history in Oestersund becoming the first Italian woman to win a World Championship title! She missed the women’s relay yesterday and took part in the Mass Start for points to help her in her quest for the Overall title. I don’t think she was expecting to win, but she did just that with a fabulous shooting performance, well up to the final standing anyway!

It was Hanna Oberg who started the best leading out of the first prone but she was quickly passed on the tracks by the on-form Denise Herrmann.

At the second prone it was Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht who left the range first but she was joined by five others who had all shot the perfect 10/10. They were Wierer, Franziska Preuss, Ingrid Tandrevold, Clare Egan and Iryna Kryuko.

All six came into the first stand together but it was Wierer who left on her own. She hit 5/5 very fast and the other five all missed targets to give the Italian a good lead.

At the final shoot Wierer missed 2 but was far enough ahead to complete her penalty loops and stay in front. Yurlova-Percht had 1 penalty as did Denise Herrmann and they had to settle for silver and bronze.

Hanna Oberg was 4th,Tiril Eckhoff 5th and Laura Dahlmeier 6th.

Joanne Reid in her first Mass Start had an amazing race finishing in 10th for her career best result.

Lisa Vittozzi missed 4 in the prone and was close to last place but then cleaned the stand to move back up to 8th place!! A result which leaves her and her teammate, roommate and friend Dorothea Wierer tied on points for the Overall title!!!

The men’s race was crazy! It was snowy and windy just like the women’s race. After the prone shoot Benedikt Doll took a small lead but with 18 out of 30 biathletes shooting clean most of the field were still in contention. People who did miss however were Dominik Windisch (1) and Antonin Guigonnat (2).

At the second prone Johannes Boe took over the lead with Doll missing but he was joined at the front by brother Tarjei, Arnd Peiffer, Dmytro Pidruchnyi, Julian Eberhard and Simon Desthieux.

The third shoot was a disaster for the leaders. Johannes missed 2, Desthieux 4, Tarjei 3, Eberhard 3, Peiffer 2 and Pidruchnyi 1. Evgeniy Garanichev hit all 5 and took the lead having hit all 15 targets up to then to take the lead. He was followed by Vetle Christiansen who did the same. Pidruchnyi was in third but was soon passed on the tracks by Johannes Boe and Bendikt Doll.

The final shoot was madness but one man came out a hero! Dominik Windisch hit all 5 having missed one on each shoot up to then to take the lead! Everyone else at the sharp end missed except Alexander Loginov. With just 1 miss Simon Eder moved into third and also with 1 miss each came Antonin Guigonnat and Julian Eberhard right behind him.

Guigonnat and Eberhard passed Eder on track but by this time Windisch was out front extending his lead and skied home for double Italian gold!!!

The fight was on for silver with Eberhard passing Guigonnat but the Frenchman came back and was too strong for the Austrian and claimed his first World Championship medal with Eberhard taking bronze.

Loginov was 4th, Quentin Fillon Maillet 5th and Arnd Peiffer 6th.

So that wraps up the World Championships which has been one of last shoot meltdowns!!! Norway topped the medal table with 9 medals, 5 of them gold to take home to the final World Cup in Oslo.

That is where the Women’s Overall will be decided with Wierer and Vittozzi battling it out for victory! Will it go down to the very last race again this season? Of course it will!!! 🙂

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Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg would have been very happy with today’s rallies…..what I am talking about!!! It was the relays and they won’t be happy at all since they were both won by their neighbours and great rivals Norway!

The women raced first and it was Italy as usual who handed over first at the exchange. Lisa Vittozzi is a first leg legend! She did use 3 spares today unusually for her but she still skied herself into the lead!

She gave Nicole Gontier a five second lead over the Ukraine, the USA and home team Sweden after 10/10 shoots from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Linn Persson and just the 1 spare from Susan Dunklee. Germany with Vanessa Hinz went on the penalty loop but Norway were not too far off with a solid leg from Synnoeve Solemdal with 2 spares used.

Gontier had a great leg hitting all 10 targets as did Clare Egan for the USA leaving them neck and neck at the exchange. They were followed by Vita Semerenko, Mona Brorsson and Ingrid Tandrevold who hit 10/10 for Norway.

The third leg saw Joanne Reid hold the lead for the USA after the prone ahead of Alexia Runggaldier, Anna Magnusson, Yuliia Dzhima and Tiril Eckhoff.

Magnusson cleaned the stand to put Sweden in the lead, Reid needed 1 spare, Dzhima 2 and Eckhoff and Runggaldier went on the penalty loop!

That gave Hanna Oberg a 17 second lead at the final exchange. She was followed out by Emily Dreissigacker, Valj Semerenko and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Oberg needed 2 spares in the prone, the USA were clean and Ukraine and Norway took 1 spare each.

Roeiseland and Semerenko passed Dreissigacker on the tracks to move into second and third place for the final crucial shoot. Oberg was first in but needed all her spares. Roeiseland threw caution to the wind and went for it hitting all 5 and skiing to the gold medal for Norway. Sweden took silver and Semerenko needed 1 spare to safely claim the bronze medal. Unfortunately Dreissigacker went on the penalty loop twice and eventually finished in 9th but it was an amazing race from the US ladies.

Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th.

The day was tinged with sadness however as it was Rosanna Crawford’s final race for Canada who finished 14th. She will be greatly missed on the World Cup. 😦

The men raced later and victory again went to Norway who have won gold in every single relay at the World Championships!

The first leg was very close between a lot of the teams with some good shooting on the range. It was Matvey Eliseev who handed over first though for Russia with Lukas Hofer and Antonin Guigonnat close behind. The top ten teams were all within around 10 seconds of each other with Erik Lesser and Lars Birkeland keeping Germany and Norway in the mix.

The gaps stared to appear after leg 2 with France taking the lead thanks to Quentin Fillon Maillet. However he was followed closely by Vetle Christiansen in second and Jesper Nelin in third. Roman Rees for Germany (3 spares) and newcomer Nikita Porshnev for Russia (2 spares) both had solid legs.

On the third leg Tarjei Boe did really well using just 2 spares in the stand to give his brother a 43 second lead for the last lap. Simon Desthieux went on the penalty loop but still managed to tag Martin Fourcade in second place. He left at the same time as Bendikt Doll after a great leg from Arnd Peiffer moved Germany into third. Martin Ponsiluoma used 2 spares to put Sweden in fourth. Dmitry Malyshko kept Russia in the hunt also with 3 spares.

Johannes Boe shot clean on the prone to extend his lead. Fourcade cleaned and Doll needed 1 spare but they were still locked together in the podium positions. Samuelsson used 3 spares and was passed by Rok Trsan who put Slovenia into 4th!

Boe used all 3 spares in the stand but it was enough to seal victory and yet another gold for Norway. Doll used 1 spare but Fourcade ended up with 2 penalty loops. That left Germany in a comfortable silver medal position. Bronze was still up for grabs and with a perfect leg from Alexander Loginov it went to Russia.

The Czech Republic moved up to 4th, Slovenia were 5th and France 6th.

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Oestersund 2019: Single Mixed Relay!

As explosive as experiment day in Alfred Nobel’s laboratory, the first ever Single Mixed Relay at the World Championships went off with a bang!

It was Norway (surprise, surprise) that were the history makers today in Oestersund taking the first gold medal in this event at a major Championships. Johannes Boe and Marte Olbsu Roeiseland proved a great combination mainly of ski speed and sometimes of shooting.

The action was non stop and left everyone breathless as team after team took the lead and then lost the lead and then regained the lead again!!

After the first lap Italy were in first place with Dorothea Wierer using only 1 spare. There was nothing in it though with Austria and Ukraine right behind and by the first prone for the men there were 7 teams together on the range.

There were quite a few spares required by the boys including 3 for Johannes Boe on the stand, 2 for Lukas Hofer and 3 altogether from Sebastian Samuelsson. Dmytro Pidruchnyi cleaned the stand, as did Antonin Guigonnat, Simon Eder and Erik Lesser.

They exchanged to the women in that order but it soon changed with Denise Herrmann taking the lead out on the tracks. Wierer, Hauser and Merkushyna cleaned the prone but Herrmann, Oberg and Roeiseland needed 1 spare each.

Herrmann again passed on the tracks to lead into the stand but needed 2 spares as did Hauser, Wierer used 1 but crucially Roeiseland and Oberg cleaned.

That left Italy in the lead at the last exchange but just 1 second ahead of Norway and 6 ahead of Sweden. All three cleaned the prone and so it would come down to the stand to decide the medals. Boe, who has had problems in the stand here in Oestersund, hit all 5 and skied off to take the gold. Hofer needed 1 spare but was safe in second place.

Sweden took the bronze with Samuelsson also needing just the 1 spare to hold off the charging Erik Lesser who hit 10/10 in his leg and 20/20 overall.

It was an action packed race all the way to the final shoot and a great addition to the World Championships. Germany were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Russia 6th.

Poor Austria who have never finished off the podium in this race on the World Cup were 8th.

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Oestersund 2019: Women’s Individual!

It seems Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump) has a rival for the affections of the Swedish people! Yes Hanna Oberg is now the darling of Oestersund after her stunning performance to take gold at her home World Championships!

After finishing 4th in the sprint and 5th in the pursuit she finally got the medal the home fans were desperate for. She shot the perfect 20/20 to add the World title to the Olympic title she won last year becoming the first woman to ever do that back to back. Grattis Hanna! 🙂

The silver medal went to Lisa Vittozzi who has broken the curse of changing ski suit from green to blue! She also hit 20/20 to win her first ever World Championship medal and also win the small crystal globe in the Indiviudual as well as extending her lead in the yellow bib. Not a bad day’s work for the Italian!

The bronze medal was more of a surprise with Justine Braisaz finishing third. Her form hasn’t been great this season but she timed it right today. She hit 19/20 and managed to ski 7 seconds faster than Laura Dahlmeier who with the same shooting score was denied her third podium in a row. Paulina Fialkova was 5th also with 19/20.

Others who hit 20/20 today were Lisa Hauser who was 7th, Yuliia Dzhima who was 12th and Yuliia Zhuravok who was 14th.

Larisa Kuklina got her personal best in 16th with 1 miss.

Special mentions for Mona Brorsson who hit 19/20 to finish 6th making a great comeback after Sunday’s pursuit. Although she would have won the race had she hit all 20 targets!!! Also for Selina Gasparin who was 9th with 1 miss on her return from becoming a mother for the second time.

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Oestersund 2019: The Pursuits!

“The winner takes it all
The loser’s standing small”

A perfect summary of today’s women’s pursuit by ABBA. It was absolute joy for one and utter heartbreak for another!

We started off in nice conditions then the wind got up and a snow storm blew in. It was Anastasiya Kuzmina who went off first after her sprint win but her lead only lasted until the first shoot when she missed 2 in the prone.

That left Denise Herrmann and Mona Brorsson out ahead with Laura Dahlmeier and Tiril Eckhoff just behind after all four hit 5/5.

It was a similar story after the second prone with all four hitting 5/5 again. Denise Herrmann pulled put a lead on the tracks from Brorsson in second and arrived in the range first for the standing shoot. Herrmann missed 2 and Brorsson cleaned to leave her out in the lead by over half a minute. Behind them Dahlmeier missed 1 and Eckhoff missed 2.

At the final stand it was not to be for home favourite Brorsson. She missed her first shot and couldn’t recover eventually missing 4 targets in all. It was horrible to watch her fall apart at her home World Championships but it is the first time she has been in this position and there was a lot of pressure on her. I think leading the penultimate loop by herself gave her too much thinking time about the consequences of the last shoot and it got to her.

She is such a nice person and deserved better but hopefully this experience will help her in the future to win races and get podiums. Fingers crossed it is in the next two races!

Back on the range Denise Herrmann was cleaning her five targets and heading off for her first ever World Championship gold medal after just three seasons in biathlon. Quite an amazing feat.

There was a big battle on the tracks for silver and bronze with Dahlmeier and Eckhoff also hitting all 5 on the final shoot. The German was just ahead but Eckhoff was strong on the skis and caught up to her heading to the finish line. Eckhoff was clever and took a tight line into the home straight to make sure Dahlmeier couldn’t get ahead and she took the silver medal for Norway. Dahlmeier got her second bronze in a row.

Marte Olsbu Roeiseland was 4th coming from 25th even with 4 misses! Hanna Oberg was 5th and Kuzmina 6th.

Anna Magnusson went from 43rd to 11th and Lena Haecki from 53rd to 14th.

The men’s pursuit showed exactly why we love biathlon. The main man who has been winning all season and had a big lead coming into the final shoot looked unbeatable, and then he was beaten! And he was beaten by someone who has never won a race before, in fact he has never made the podium before today!

Johannes Thingnes Boe almost had the gold medal around his neck for most of this pursuit. He cleaned the first prone and set about building on his lead. Martin Fourcade also cleaned and was joined by Alexander Loginov despite his 1 miss for the second loop.

Boe missed 1 on his second prone but had a big margin and held the lead. Fourcade and Loginov also hit 5/5 as did Erik Lesser and Benajmin Weger who were on their tails.

At the third shoot Johannes missed another but again kept out in front. Behind him Fourcade, Loginov, Lesser and Weger all missed 2 and Boe’s lead was maintained. However next in the range were Tarjei Boe, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Dmytro Pidruchnyi, Antonin Guigonnat and Evgeniy Garanichev who all cleaned and found themselves fighting for the silver and bronze.

At the final shoot it all went wrong for Boe missing 3 targets. Even if he had missed just 2 he probably would have won but not 3. Pidruchnyi was the only one of the chase group who held his nerve and cleaned while the others all missed 1.

By this time Pidruchnyi was gone and Johannes was off the penalty loop into second but third was still up for grabs. It went down to a ski race between Fillon Maillet and Tarjei Boe with the Frenchman just that bit faster claiming his second bronze medal in two days.

It was an unbelievable race from Pidruchnyi who is probably not so upset about missing the bronze in the sprint by 0.3 of a second now that he is the pursuit World Champion!!!

Martin Fourcade finished 5th and Andrejs Rastorgujevs was 6th.

Elsewhere Michal Krcmar went from 44th to 25th,Thomas Bormolini from 43rd to 27th and Matvey Eliseev from 51st to 35th.

Tomorrow is a rest day which is lucky as there are a few biathletes who won’t be getting much sleep tonight for very different reasons!!!

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