First Victory for Lisa Vittozzi in Oberhof Sprint
Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi, shooting clean and unchallenged from the first split time claimed the first World Cup victory of her career this afternoon, winning the Oberhof sprint in 22:34.6. Anais Chevalier of France matched her Italian rival on the range, finishing in a season-best second place, 5.3 seconds back. Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg also shot clean in third place, 15 seconds back.
Vittozzi commented on her first win. “It is incredible; I am very happy. Oberhof is not my best place… but today is my first victory and I am very satisfied.”
Oberhof Women's Sprint
Norway’s Marte Olsbu Røiseland, with one penalty finished fourth, 18.1 seconds back. Iryna Kryuko of Belarus and Vita Semerenko of Ukraine both shot clean with season bests of fifth and sixth place, 21.6 and 29.1 seconds back.
Cloudy Start to 2019
The first competition of 2019 kicked off under cloudy skies, with a temperature of minus 6 and very un-Oberhof like fairly calm conditions on the shooting range. After the heavy snowfall, most of the top women started in the second group, with the exceptions of Hanna Oeberg and Kaisa Mäkäräinen tucked back at numbers 74 and 79,thinking that the tracks would ski in and get faster.
Vittozzi in the Lead
Vittozzi started her day by taking the early lead at the 1.5K split. Then the Italian, Chevalier, and Paulina Fialkova got the new year off to a good start with strong clean prone stages putting them 1-2-3 early on. Nove Mesto double winner Røiseland matched the trio but was 14.8 second back. Yellow Bib Wierer started 2019 with a tour of the penalty loop. Among later starters, Oeberg made her play for the podium with a solid 5-for-5, but 10 seconds behind the top three.
Number 25 Vittozzi shot cautiously, but clean in standing to jump into the lead over the first starters. Chevalier matched the Italian with a faster stage to leave the stadium 4.1 seconds back. In between them, Fialkova and Wierer both had penalties, taking them out of contention. Røiseland also had one tour of the loop, leaving in fifth, 30 seconds off the leader’s time. Oeberg was the star of the late starters efficiently closing the five standing targets, 15 seconds back, but solidly in the third spot.. She admitted, “I felt pretty confident on the range today.”
Nothing to Chance; Oeberg in Third
The young Italian left nothing to chance on the last loop skiing with authority, putting her in the number 1 spot at the finish. Chevalier pushed equally hard, but gained no ground. Røiseland showed her track skills, knocking off a dozen seconds in the last 2.5K loop, initially moving into third position, until Oeberg had a steady last loop, holding the 15-second back position to slip ahead of the Norwegian for the final podium spot.
December Frustration Ends
The 23-year-old Vittozzi broke her December frustration of three fourth places, one fifth place, and twice sixth place. “In December it was always 4th place, 5th place so I am really happy with my first victory here in Oberhof. I was really focused on my shooting since I do not feel so good on the skis. I tried to stay concentrated, to do a good race… I do my best in every race and it is fine…"
Chevalier worked hard to get in good shape for December and beyond this year, after missing several months in 2017 after a cycling accident. “I worked hard this summer to be in shape in December, because last year, I was never in shape in December. Now I am in shape and know it, but it is not my maximum. I want to do my best in each race this season no matter what the other girls are doing. I just focus on myself…”
Oeberg Not So Nervous
Oeberg thinks she has found her place on the World Cup circuit. “I feel more confident each week; I have found a good level and feel calm. I am not so nervous anymore.”