Dahlmeier Victorious in Mass Start for Gold Medal Number Five
Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier shot clean to win the women’s mass start in 33:13.3 this morning, claiming her record-setting fifth Gold medal of these IBU World Championships. Dahlmeier took control in the final one kilometer, passing Susan Dunklee of the USA who won her first-ever medal, Silver also with clean shooting, 4.6 seconds back. The Bronze medal went to fast-finishing Kaisa Mäkäräinen of Finland, with one penalty, 20.1 seconds back.
Fourth went to Gabriela Koukalová of Czech Republic, 24 seconds back. Slovenia’s Teja Gregorin finished fifth, just .2 seconds behind the Czech star, while Ukraine’s Juliya Dzhyma was in sixth, another .2 seconds back. All three women had a single penalty.
Sunshine and Clean Shooting; Dunklee in Charge
Spectacular sunshine with brilliant blues skies returned for the mass starts on a virtually windless day. The stadium and tracks were packed to capacity with over 25,000 fans on hand.
The big group came to the first prone, with everyone shooting carefully. Nineteen women cleaned with Susan Dunklee leading all of the favorites including Koukalová, Dahlmeier and Domracheva out for the second loop. Dunklee shot fast and clean again to lead six women out within 10 seconds. Dahlmeier was on the US biathlete’s shoulder, with Koukalová just behind. Both Wierer and Sanfilippo were in the top six.
By the time they reached the shooting range for the first standing, the top six women were all together. Dunklee made it 15-for-15 and again led the way back on the tracks, with Dahlmeier, Koukalová and the defending champion Dorin Habert all matching and following again within 10 seconds.
Dahlmeier Takes Over in Final Kilometer
The four all shot side-by-side in the deciding last standing stage. Dunklee cleaned first; Dahlmeier followed while Dorin Habert and Koukalová both had single penalties. Dzhyma cleaned fast and left in a virtual tie for third with Koukalová. Dahlmeier left 5 seconds back, but Dahlmeier came up within a stride half-way through the last 2.5K. By 11.6K, Dahlmeier was in the lead and pulling away. At this same stage, Koukalová and Mäkäräinen were in a battle for the Bronze medal. The German star skied home easily for win number five, with Dunklee in the Silver spot. Mäkäräinen pulled away from the Czech star in the final 500 meters for the Bronze medal.
Laura and Susan
Dahlmeier was thinking about what would happen on the last loop. “Susan and I had this little game on each loop; she was faster on the shooting range and then I would catch her on the big hill. On the last loop was the same. I had good material and was able to go 100% on that hill.”
Medals, Medals and More Medals for Laura
Dahlmeier won a medal each time she set foot on the Hochfilzen tracks, winning Gold in the 15K individual, pursuit, mass start, mixed and women’s relays. Her only non-victory resulted in a Silver sprint medal. She has won a medal in her last 11 WCH starts. “At the moment, I have not realized all of this. I tried to give my best in every race; I really like this place and always had great races here…The 11th medal in a row is great but it was not on my mind today… I thought it was important to stay calm and shoot 0-0-0-0; the most important thing was to stay focused on shooting.”
Dunklee with her first-ever medal and just the fourth podium of her career was ecstatic. “Oh my gosh, this is a wonderful to have a perfect day when it counts, takes a bit of luck. This is what we worked for all year; it is incredible!
Mäkäräinen, moving from seventh to Bronze in the last loop was on the verge of tears. “Thanks for all of the cheering in the last uphill; I really needed it. If this was my last WCH ever, I am happy to have a medal. I started my career here in Hochfilzen in 2005 and we do not have a World Championships next year with the Olympics, so this is very emotional…I expected more, but this is a difficult sport and everything has to be perfect. It was not perfect today but I knew if that on mistake was my only penalty, I could fight for the podium…and I was strongest in the last loop.”