Christiansen and Herrmann Win First Sprints in Beitostolen
On a windy day 124 men and 93 women athletes left the starting gates to battle for the first honors of the new season in today's sprint competitions. Despite strong gusts that prevailed during the whole competition, Vetle Sjastad Christiansen of Norway managed to shoot clean to win in 25.56.6. Later in the afternoon, Germany's Denise Herrmann, in her IBU Cup debut, despite six penalties won the women's sprint in 24:43.9.
Second place went to Germany’s Roman Rees with one penalty, 16.7 seconds back. It is Rees' first senior season, which he started successfully. Another Norwegian Vegard Gjermundshaug with early start number 5 had three penalties and finished third, 47.7 seconds back.
Lorenz Waeger of Austria finished fourth, 51.7 seconds back, with two penalties. Vladimir Iliev of Bulgaria, with five penalties and Russia’s Yury Shopin with three penalties tied for fifth place, 58.3 seconds back.
Last year’s winner of the Total Cup score Matvey Eliseev of Russia had three penalties to finish 9th.
“It is a great feeling to win the first international competition of the season and it’s surely gives some self-confidence. Winning at home in Norway is very special since some of my friends are here and my father came on a surprise visit from my home town.”
Hit Only One Target
After the win Christiansen commented, "It is a great feeling to win the first international competition of the season and it’s surely gives some self-confidence. Winning at home in Norway is very special since some of my friends are here and my father came on a surprise visit from my home town.” Regarding the conditions, he added, “Conditions were really difficult today, especially during zeroing, when it was almost impossible to shoot. I only hit one target at the standing and made four mistakes, so I didn’t think I would manage to shoot clean. But I was lucky because there was almost no wind for me at the range. After the last shot I was really smiling and I just went for the last lap as fast as I could.”
The same wind gusts remained during the women’s sprint this afternoon. As in men’s competition, only one athlete Maria Tsakiri of Greece managed to hit every targets, but was not fast enough on the tracks, finishing 40th.
Ex-cross-country skier Herrmann an Olympic Relay Bronze medalist in Sochi, won in her first international biathlon start. She showed incredible speed on the tracks and despite six penalties crossed the finish line first. After the standing stage, she was just 17th with an almost 50-second gap from the leader! Belarusian’s Dzinara Alimbekava with only one penalty left standing in first. Until the last split point she was battling for the win, but finished second, 5.6 seconds back. Third place went to the World Cup veteran Ekaterina Glazyrina of Russia with one penalty, 12.9 seconds back. This was Glazyrina's first start after sitting out last season, due to the birth of her first child.
"It was my first international competition and the beginning was nearly perfect. I am really happy that I won and it was unbelievable when coaches on the track said that I was leading."
Katharina Innerhofer of Austria missed the podium by 1.7 seconds in fourth with four penalties. Ukraine’s Yuliya Zhuravok had one prone penalty, but finished fifth, 16.2 seconds back. Raghnild Femsteinevik of Norway finished sixth with three penalties, 16.6 seconds behind.
To Be Clever
Herrmann was very happy with the win, “The race was good, but difficult; my shooting was not the best, but I felt really good on the track. It was very windy on the shooting range and I do not have much experience in shooting, especially in such tough conditions. At night when I heard the wind, I understood it’s going to be quite a challenge during the competition.” Regarding her first biathlon start she added, “Before the start I surely was worried. But biathlon is great and it differs from the cross-country skiing. Here you have short brakes at the shooting range, but at the same time you have to stay focused and to be clever. And only on the last lap you need to run as fast as you can.”