Big Comeback for Darya Domracheva, Wins Antholz Mass Start
Darya Domracheva staged another of her classic comebacks, cleaning the last standing stage to move from 10th position to first place, winning the snowy Antholz women’s mass start in 40:23.9. Her only penalty of the day came in the first prone stage when she fell to 19th position, then steadily moved up to finish 11.9 seconds ahead of second place Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia, with three penalties. Fast finishing Kaisa Mäkäräinen of Finland, with four penalties, finished third, 16.2 seconds back.
Norway’s Marte Olsbu finished fourth, with two penalties, 22.6 seconds back, followed by Germans Laura Dahlmeier and Maren Hammerschmidt, with two and one penalties respectively, 23.9 and 25.2 seconds back.
Snow, Slow Tracks, Closely Packed Field
The sun was nowhere to be found today after an all night snowstorm added about 35cm of fresh snow, with moderate snow still falling as the competition started. This slowed the tracks significantly. Even with the snow falling, the wind flags stayed mostly still. Anastasiya Kuzmina set the pace, leading the first loop, with Wierer, Mäkäräinen, and Denise Herrmann just behind her. Wierer and Herrmann cleaned the fastest, going out just steps apart, leading half of the field who hit every shot; all within 23 seconds. The two leaders continued to put more distance between them and the rest of the field over the next 2.5K loop. Wierer shot clean and quick, while Herrmann missed two. The hometown girl led the also-perfect Mäkäräinen by 10 seconds, with Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht and Valja Semerenko just behind her as they headed to the standing stages. Now just 10 women were penalty-free.
Big Lead for Wierer
The Yellow Bib shadowed Wierer over the next loop, letting the Italian dictate the pace. After the early penalties, Kuzmina was now back in the chase group. Wierer added to her lead with another perfect stage while Mäkäräinen missed two shots. Kuzmina continued her comeback with a 5-for-5 to move into second but 22.9 seconds back. The next group included Vanessa Hinz, Franziska Preuss and Semerenko, all still penalty-free.
Domracheva Cleans; Speeds Away to Victory
Kuzmina closed the gap over the next loop, but Wierer still was in control, skiing comfortably when they came to the final standing stage. The wind flags were flat; the leader missed her third and fifth shots, with Kuzmina also missing once. Domracheva cleaned taking a 3.3 second lead on Kuzmina with Wierer 13 seconds back, followed by Olsbu. The triple-Olympic Gold medalist put on a burst of speed, leaving Kuzmina 14 seconds back at the next split, while Olsbu passed Wierer to move into third position.
She won the the mass start in @Sochi2014 - she wins the final @IBU_WC mass start before @pyeongchang2018: @DaryaDomracheva triumps in #ANT18 ahead of Anastasiya Kuzmina and @kmakarainen— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 21, 2018
You can rewatch the entire competition on: https://t.co/Z1cUg23KzH pic.twitter.com/0Fg3wQjtYt
**Domracheva held the gap on Kuzmina while Mäkäräinen flew around the last loop, moving from 8th after the last standing to grab third place. The Belarusian star commented, “I saw that she was only three seconds back; I knew that Anastasiya is very fast and a very strong athlete, so I decided I need to go and run away.”
Do My Job
The winner admitted that this was not an easy win. “It is always nice to be on the podium, especially in first place. It was very tough race and very slow track conditions. From the beginning of the race, it was very important to be focused on shooting. I was not worried about the other athletes; I had to just do my job.”
Kuzmina relied on her ski speed to get second place. “The second place is for one of my servicemen as a small gift for the very good skis; that is why I started too fast and tried to fight by ski speed. The shooting was not good…on the last loop, I tried to catch Darya but it was not possible?”
“As Fast as Possible"
Mäkäräinen knew there was only one route to the podium. I tried to ski as fast as possible and catch some places. I was not so sure that I could catch the podium because it was a quite big gap. But I guess some other girls were more tired than me!”