Another round in Ruhpolding, another win for Martin Fourcade! Little had changed in the 2 days off between World Cups 4 and 5 except some strange white stuff falling from the sky which some reports claim is the elusive “snow” we have all been waiting for.
The Men’s Individual was on Wednesday and as already mention was the 42nd victory for Fourcade. He missed only one target but still managed to beat the likes of Ondrej Moravec and Maxim Tsvetkov who both shot clear. Depressingly for them their perfect shooting didn’t even earn them a podium. Those places went to Simon Eder in second and Anton Shipulin in third who both also missed one target. Seventh place went to Sweden’s Torstein Stenerson who produced his best ever result with a fantastic performance.
Luckily for shooting fans everywhere the Women’s Individual on Thursday was won by someone who shot clear! That honour went to Dorothea Wierer who has suddenly discovered that she is amazing at the Individual winning her second in a row after taking the first race back in Oestersund in round 1. Second went to Kaisa Makarainen with one miss and Gabriela Soukalova also missed one shot in third. Also shooting clean was Selina Gasparin who is looking back on good form after her season out to have a baby. Galina Vishnevskaya also impressed with her personal best in 15th.
On a snowy Friday we had the Men’s Relay. It was won comfortably in the end by Norway although they had some tough competition from the French in the early part of the race. By the final lap Emil Svendsen had a good lead thanks to some good work from Tarjei Boe on leg 3. Russia had another great race in second place using only 6 spare rounds in total and an impressive Austrian team were third despite completing a penalty loop. Simon Eder brought them back into contention with a fabulous leg and Dominik Landertinger was able to keep ahead of the French Team to secure the final podium place. Home team Germany were fifth after 3 penalty loops from the unfortunate Johannes Kuehn and the USA had a good relay finishing 6th using only 8 spare rounds.
On an even snowier Saturday we got the Mass Starts. The women went first and the conditions made it difficult on the shooting range and for skiing. Gabriela Soukalova won this one and is fast becoming a specialist at winning in tricky conditions. Her previous win this season came in windy Oestersund. Marie Dorin Habert was leading this race up until the final shoot when she missed 4 targets. Franziska Hildebrand missed one on her final shoot but Gabi took her time and hit 20/20 to win even though she looked really tired on her skis. Laura Dahlmeier took third to keep her excellent season on track. Kaisa Makarainen didn’t start the race.
Later in the day came the men’s race with similar weather to contend with. It was won surprisingly by Erik Lesser. He hasn’t had a great season so far and started in bib 30 as a reserve after other biathletes pulled out of the race. He shot the perfect 20/20 to beat Martin Fourcade into second. Third place went to Evgeniy Garanichev who has been showing some good form since the Christmas break. Lesser raced brilliantly doing his own race from the back and making sure he hit all his shots and didn’t get involved with anyone else. He seemed to save energy for the last loop too ensuring that Fourcade couldn’t catch him. Also impressive was Michal Krcmar who achieved his best ever finish on the World Cup coming home in 5th place after leaving the final shoot in 9th!
The final day in Ruhpolding saw the Women’s Relay and what great race it was! Ukraine and Belarus were leading until the third leg when Valj Semerenko earned a penalty loop on the prone shoot missing 1 target with 4 bullets. Poor Nadzeya Pisareva from Belarus had some sort of physical problem and almost stopped before making it to her handover. The German Team had 2 penalty loops from Miriam Goessner on the second leg but brilliant work from Maren Hammerschmidt and Laura Dahlmeier brought them right back into the fight for first. On the final shoot Dahlmeier caught up to Ukraine’s Olena Pidrushna and looked favourite to win. However experience paid off this time with Olena shooting clear to Laura’s 1 miss and in the final finishing straight Olena took the best line and stopped Laura’s sprint finish to take the win for her country. Italy just held on to third with Dorothea Wierer holding off the Russains on the final lap.
After an eternity in Ruhpolding we finally get to move on and set off for Antholz-Anterselva which has no problems with snow. Martin and Gabi continue in yellow and there is a Sprint and Pursuit in Italy as well as 2 more relays to look forward too. We will see how the increasingly tired and sick biathletes deal with the altitude in the South Tyrol!
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