Anastasiya Kuzmina Takes Le Grand Bornand Sprint
Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia claimed her second victory of the season this afternoon, shooting clean while taking the women’s 7.5 K sprint at Le Grand Bornand in 20:59.6, giving her a 39.4 second margin of victory over Second place Laura Dahlmeier of Germany, also shooting clean. Vita Semerenko of Ukraine finished third, matching the top two on the shooting range, 41.4 seconds back.
Lisa Vittozzi of Italy also shot clean in fourth place, 50 seconds back, while Germany’s Denise Herrmann, with one penalty, finished fifth, 50.6 seconds back. Sixth went to Switzerland’s Selina Gasparin, also with one penalty, 53.4 seconds back.
The women got lucky for once, with cloudy skies, temperature at freezing, with a bit of light snow falling and just a very slight breeze for this first competition at le Grand Bornand. The tracks were fairly soft, due to the warm temperatures and they continued to soften as the competition progressed.
Vittozzi and Herrmann
Vittozzi was the first of the top women to clean prone. Shortly thereafter, Herrmann skied a fairly fast first loop, shot slowly and cleaned to take the early lead. Mäkäräinen was faster on the tracks, but missed a shot falling back; a second penalty in standing put her out of podium contention. Kuzmina again showed her sharpness with a solid prone to take the lead from the German. Herrmann dropped all five standing targets but left behind the Italian.
Kuzmina Buries the Field
The double Olympic Sprint Champion showed the same shooting skill as last week in Hochfilzen with a fast 5-for-5 leaving no doubt as to who would be in the lead. She left the stadium with a 35 second lead over the field. With 400 meters to go, the Slovakian had extended her lead to 47 seconds. She continued to build her lead, crossing the finish line 50 seconds ahead of Vittozzi. The top three held until Olympic Sprint Bronze medalist Vita cleaned standing to leave for the last loop in third position. With an excellent last loop, she moved ahead of the Italian at the finish.
Dahlmeier Challenges; Finishes Second
At this point, the focus went to Dahlmeier starting at number 86. She skied a bit slower on the first loop, but cleaned prone efficiently, leaving 6.7 seconds behind Kuzmina. Dahlmeier was not as fast one the second loop, but remained in the top three. She toppled the five standing targets, but again was not as fast as Kuzmina, 25.8 seconds back. Still last year’s Crystal Globe winner was set for her first podium of the season in second place.
Kuzmina was all smiles after her second win in a row, coming on the heels of her pursuit victory in Hochfilzen. “It is always a great feeling to be a winner, especially when the race was pretty good from start to finish. It was really important to shoot two tines zero. The snow condition was not too comfortable for me; I really want to thanks my service team for the skis. That was an important part of my victory.”
Happy to Be Back
Dahlmeier continued her march back to the top. “I am used to missing Östersund; it has happened several times…It is a really good feeling to be back on the podium. Last week, I said it was going step-by-step in the right direction. I felt really great after the relay. I am not 100% at the moment, but the shape will be better and better.”
First Podium since 2014 OWG
Semerenko, with her first individual podium since her Olympic Sprint Bronze medal in March 2014 commented on her return after the birth of her son Mark just over a year ago. "I am thankful to my coach. I will never forget my first training after giving birth. My coach said, "If we don't give it a try, we will not find out what happens next." I said "OK" but I had a lot of anxiety about coming back to biathlon, as I understood that coming back after three years would be tough. I am also thankful to my husband who told me every day after I had my child, "Vita, come on, come on, let's make a comeback!"