Clean-shooting Koukalová Tops Oberhof Sprint
Czech Republic’s Gabriela Koukalova shot clean in today's women's sprint in Oberhof for her second straight victory in a row, covering the 7.5K course 21:56.9. Today's win follows her mass start in Nove Mesto na Moravě last month. Kaisa Makarainen of Finland finished second, with two penalties, 21 seconds back. France’s Marie Dorin Habert grabbed the last spot on the podium, with one penalty, 23.7 seconds back.
Dorin Habert's teammate Anais Chevalier shot clean to finish fourth, 30.1 seconds back. Hometown favorite, Germany’s Maren Hammerschmidt was flawless at the shooting range in fifth place, 35.9 seconds back while Italy’s Dorothea Wierer also shooting clean was sixth, 43.7 seconds back.
After a stormy, windy day yesterday and overnight snow, the women were treated to a sunny afternoon, marked by cold minus 9C temperature and welcoming, calm wind flags on the shooting range.
Koukalová, wearing bib number 1 skied conservatively on the first loop, cleaned prone and took control of the competition. The Czech star then cleaned standing and had a strong last loop that put her atop the leader board, as the rest of the women tried to catch her. She commented on her strategy, “I had many races when I was full of energy during the first loop, but missed it during the last loop. I think today I chose my tactics wisely.”
Mäkäräinen had the fastest time with clean shooting in prone, but two standing penalties put her at a deficit going into the final 2.5K. she responded with the fastest time on the final loop to finish second. She was happy to be on the podium despite two misses. “I felt quite confident before the standing, but I started shooting a bit too fast for me. After the second mistake I thought: “Here we go again, I have to go to the penalty loop, and then we will see.”
Dorin Habert also had a chance to win, leaving prone just .2 seconds behind Mäkäräinen, but she had a standing penalty and crossed the finish line in third. She commented on the recent success of French women in the World Cup. “We have many young talents on the team, they are ambitious and motivated. They are faster each competition, and the shooting will come with time.”