We are back in Belarus for the Open European Championships! Minsk-Raubichi is the location which held the Youth/Junior World Championships back in 2015.
A lot of the World Cup athletes who skipped the North American World Cup races were there to prepare for World Championships so there was a good mix of World Cup, IBU Cup and Junior biathletes.
The first races were the individuals held on Wednesday in windy, snowy conditions. The men raced first and master of the individual Bulgaria’s Krasimir Anev took the gold medal. He missed just one shot to claim the title ahead of Tarjei Boe in second and Endre Stroemshiem in third. Boe missed 3 targets and Stroemshiem 2.
The women’s race was won by Olympic champion Hanna Oberg with an evil wind blowing in the range. Despite 3 misses she skied well to take the victory. Yuliia Zhurakov missed just one shot in bib23 to take the silver! Bronze went to home racer Iryna Kryuko with 2 misses.
Thursday was relay day with both the single mixed and mixed relays. They both came down to the final leg.
In the single it was Russia who took the win despite a penalty loop from Evgeniya Pavlova on the third leg. Her teammate Dmitry Malyshko turned it round in the final leg in some tricky shooting conditions. In fact Norway could have won this but Endre Stroemshiem had a nightmare on the final stand and did three penalty loops.
Behind Russia were the Swedish duo of Anna Magnusson and Jesper Nelin using 6 spares to take the silver medal. Bronze went to the young French team of Lou Jeanmonnot and Aristide Begue also with 6 spares required.
In the mixed relay we had a similar situation with home team Belarus in the lead at the final exchange with Germany in second and Sweden 20 seconds behind in third. However Sebastian Samuelsson on the last leg turned it around and gave Sweden the gold medal with teammates Emma Nilsson, Mona Brorsson and Martin Ponsiluoma. They needed 8 spares with Samuelsson using just one of those to take victory.
Philipp Horn anchored Germany to silver with a perfect leg. He wasn’t fast enough to match Samuelsson on the skis but second was a good result with the team of Nadine Horchler, Jannina Hettich and Lucas Fratzscher.
The bronze medal went to the home team Belarus with a team of Dzinara Alimbekava, Hanna Sola, Raman Yaliotnau and Sergey Bocharnikov.
Saturday was the day for the sprints and the men raced first and had the better conditions again with less wind. It was Tarjei Boe who took the title with 1 miss. Luckily his pesky little brother wasn’t here to ruin victory this time!!! He finished 10 seconds ahead of Jesper Nelin who shot 10/10. Also shooting clean in third was Dmitry Malyshko.
He just got the bronze by 0.4 of a second from Aristide Begue who also cleaned the targets and was very unlucky not to podium but it was an impressive race from him considering those who finished ahead of him are all World Cup biathletes. Home racer Sergey Bocharnikov was 5th and Vladimir Iliev was 6th.
The wind picked up a little more for the women’s sprint but was no where near as bad as in the individuals. This race went to Sweden with a fantastic race from Mona Brorsson. She shot clean and skied well to grab the gold medal by 37.5 seconds. The silver medal went to Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht with 1 miss and Hanna Oberg took bronze despite missing twice in the stand.
Svetlana Mironova was 4th, Karoline Knotten was 5th and Fabienne Hartweger 6th.
The final races of the competition were Sunday’s pursuits. With the Swedish team deciding not to race so they could head home for World Championships preparation there were medals up for grabs.
It meant that with no Jesper Nelin in the men’s race Tarjei Boe’s 11 second lead turned into a 35 second lead from Dmitry Malyshko. He made the most of that cushion staying out front the whole race and just missing his very last shot on the final shoot. It was a pretty lonely race for him.
Behind Boe we got some action. There were a few changes of position on the first three shoots but the last stand was decisive. Only two of the top six shot clean and they were Matvey Eliseev and Haavard Bogetveit. After doing one penalty loop Sergey Bocharnikov was in third but Bogetveit’s clean shoot meant he could catch and pass him on the tracks. Eliseev took silver and Bogetveit bronze.
Bocharnikov was 4th, Andrejs Rastorgujevs 5th and Malyshko 6th.
The women’s race was very similar with no Brorsson or Oberg it gave Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht a ten second lead at the front. With her perfect shooting on the first three shoots she build up a lead that no one could catch. She also missed 1 on her final stand but skied home with a 38 second winning margin.
Second and third was also decided on the final shoot. Iryna Kyruko, Nadine Horchler, Dunja Zdouc and Evgeniya Pavlova all hit 5/5 to overtake Karoline Knotten who missed 1 and Fabienne Hartweger who missed 3. Kryuko had a good enough lead to take the silver to the delight of the home crowd. Zdouc left the range in third but was caught by Horchler who took bronze.
Zdouc was 4th, Knotten 5th and Pavlova 6th.
Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!