Clean Shooting Carries Laura Dahlmeier to Olympic Sprint Gold
Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, one of only three women to shoot clean in windy conditions won her first Olympic Gold medal this evening, taking the women’s 7.5K sprint in 21:06.2. The Silver medal went to Norway’s Marte Olsbu, with one penalty, 24.2 seconds back while Veronika Vitkova of Czech Republic, also with one penalty, won the Bronze medal. 25.8 seconds back.
After the finish, the new Olympic Gold Medalist commented on her perfect shooting day. “Last year here, I had very good feelings on the track and on the shooting range. I am happy I could bring them back to today. The shooting was the key for sure, in this result.”
France’s Marie Dorin Habert finished fourth, 33.1 seconds back, with Dahlmeier’s teammate Vanessa Hinz, in fifth, 40.3 seconds back and Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi in sixth, 40.5 seconds back.
Cold and Windy
Cold conditions as expected greeted the 87 starters, with the thermometer reading minus 7C with stiff breeze making it feel much colder. The wind would become such a factor on the shooting range hat only three women managed to shot clean. Dahlmeier confirmed the tough conditions. “The course was very different than in the last days, especially on the downhills. The wind was there and it was cold, so it was not the easiest conditions… in the range I had to keep relaxed and do my best.”
Vitkova seconded that thought. “Conditions on the track were really hard in this race. On the range it was very windy and it was very hard for us all.”
Clicks for Wind; Bescond and Dahlmeier on Top
With almost everyone taking clicks due to the wind when they came to the prone stage, clean shooting was at a premium. Anais Bescond took the early lead, shooting clean in prone and holding it even after Dahlmeier cleaned. Just a few seconds back, Vitkova also cleaned and was 6.2 seconds back. Olsbu cleaned prone but was 25 seconds back. Just behind Dahlmeier at number 28, Dorin Habert had a single penalty but was skiing well. At the same time, most of the other big favorites had one or more penalties, including the defending champion Anastasiya Kuzmina and Kaisa Mäkäräinen, both with two penalties and Darya Domracheva with a single miss, putting them all out of podium contention Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi both starting in the second group, made serious runs at Dahlmeier with faster clean prone stages.
All Eyes on Dahlmeier
All eyes were on Dahlmeier as she came to the standing stage. The first three shots went down easily and then the wind took over. It took her more than 15 seconds for the fourth shot, but it fell as did the fifth, giving her a 13.3 second lead over Vitkova, who had missed one standing shot earlier but was skiing very well. Leaving standing, the German had 13.3 and 13.4 second leads over Vitkova and Olsbu, had shot earlier, respectively. Dorin Habert cleaned standing but was over 26 seconds off Dahlmeier’s pace, with Vittozzi, who cleaned standing six seconds ahead.
Spectacular Last Loop and Gold
Dahlmeier put on a spectacular last loop to further pull away from the field and cross the line with a 26 second margin. Olsbu had a slightly faster last loop than her Czech rival and finished in the second spot. Dorin Habert was faster than Vittozzi on the last loop but was unable to match the any of the earlier finishers and missed the podium.
Second Sprint Gold for Germany
Dahlmeier became the second German woman to win the Olympic Sprint Gold medal, following in the footsteps of Kati Wilhelm who claimed the title at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games. Wilhelm also shot clean in her victory. Dahlmeier was philosophical about the biggest victory of her career. *“I think today is today and it is a perfect day. Winning is a dream since I was a child.”
Happy: “Of Course”
The Silver and Bronze medalists were both thrilled with their medals for different reasons. The personal best and first-ever individual Championship medal for Olsbu brought a smile and the obvious answer. “Of course I am happy. It was my best race ever, though it was very hard due to the wind. I stuck to my plan and was so happy when I crossed the finish line!”
This was Vitkova’s second Olympic medal, her first was a Silver in the Sochi 2014 mixed relay. “I am very happy because this medal is my first big medal in an individual race. I had a medal before in Sochi, but it was in the mixed relay, but this is special because it is mine. I have my medal now!”