Anastasiya Kuzmina is best known as the two-time Olympic Sprint Gold medalist, claiming her first title at Vancouver in 2010 and repeating the feat at Sochi in 2014. She is the only woman in Olympic Biathlon history to successfully defend an Olympic title. Her Vancouver win was the first-ever for the independent nation of Slovakia.
Kuzmina was born in Tyumen, Russia and is the sister of Russian biathlon star and Olympic Relay Gold medalist Anton Shipulin. She started her career competing for Russia, winning two Gold, four Silver and one Bronze medal at the IBU YJWCH for her native country. After marrying her husband Daniel, she became a citizen of Slovakia, making her World Cup debut for Slovakia in the 2008-09 season. She jumped into prominence that year at the IBU World Championships in Pyeongchang, winning the Silver medal in the mass start. That medal proved to be a turning point in her career; with no previous top ten results on her resume, she added two more by the end of that season, plus her first top 30 in the World Cup Total Score.
Leading up to the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, she picked up another podium, but her inconsistency on the shooting range frequently pushed her down the results list. Still Kuzmina showed great potential with her speed and strength on the tracks. Everything came together when she outskied the number one female biathlete Magdalena Neuner and matched Neuner on the range with a single penalty. The result was a 1.5 second margin of victory over Germany’s Golden Girl. After a fatiguing couple of days in the media spotlight, Kuzmina came back for a Silver medal in the Olympic Pursuit, 12.3 seconds behind Neuner. In the following seasons, the Olympic Sprint Champion added World Cup victories and podiums, plus an IBU WCH Sprint Bronze medal to her resume. She finished 9th, 10th and 7th in the World Cup Total Score.
Sochi presented challenges and opportunities: the challenge of defending her Olympic title and the opportunity to compete in the OWG in the country of her birth. Leading up to Sochi, her shooting remained less that optimal. Yet she arose to the challenge and delivered Olympic magic with a clean-shooting sprint win, giving her Olympic Gold number 2. The now double Olympic Gold medalist ended that season with victories in the final two competitions, the Oslo pursuit and mass start. Later that year, she announced her second pregnancy and the birth of daughter Olivia that took her away from biathlon until her limited return midway into the 2016-17 season.
With Pyeongchang approaching, Kuzmina prepared to defend her title and came to the current season, strong, relaxed and shooting better than ever before. A single penalty in the Hochfilzen resulted in her first podium in three and a half years; the next day, she won the pursuit for another milestone. Second in the pursuit, after a sprint win in le Grand Bornand put the 33-year-old in the Yellow Bib for the first time in her career as the calendar turned to the Olympic year of 2018.
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