Denise Herrmann Skis to Östersund Pursuit Victory
Germany’s Denise Herrmann came back from two penalties in the first standing stage to win the women’s 10K pursuit at the BMW IBU World Cup in Östersund. With a stunningly fast last loop, she buried second place Justine Braisaz, who shot clean but finished 25.8 seconds back. Third place went to Norway’s Marte Olsbu, with two penalties, 48 seconds back.
Skardino 50-for-50 This Week
Fourth place went to Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi, with one penalty, 1:09.4 back. Herrmann’s teammate Maren Hammerschmidt finished fifth, with two penalties, 1:16.8 back. Belarusian Nadezhda Skardino finished sixth, 1:19.6 back. Skardino shot clean once again; she did not miss a shot in any of the three individual competitions this week going 50-for-50 on the shooting range.
Light Snow, Breezy
A little light snow and a moderate breeze from the left across the shooting range greeted the women for the first pursuit of the season. Starter number 4 Synnøve Solemdal left the stadium wearing the Yellow Bib for the first time in her career.
Herrmann Comfortably Leads
Herrmann pushed the first loop, pushing our her lead from 15 seconds to near 20 seconds by the first prone. She shot deliberately nad cleaned, holding the lead by 18.4 seconds over clean-shooting Vittozzi, Mäkäräinen, Braisaz and Olsbu, in a tight pack out of the stadium. The German continued to ski comfortably over the next 2K loop and cleaned again. Braisaz was the only close pursuer to match; she left in second but 22.6 seconds back. Another 20 seconds back, Olsbu, Wierer, and Vittozzi all with a penalty followed.
Braisaz Takes Over
The leader stretched her lead to more than 30 seconds over the next loop, coming to the standing stages, which would be crucial to deciding the podium spots. She missed the last two shots in the first standing stage, while Braisaz cleaned to take the lead for the first time. Herrmann now was 11 seconds back, with Olsbu and Wierer on her shoulder, with the light snow picking up in intensity.
After that stage, the German coaches were trying to instill confidence in Herrmann. “It got a little harder after the third shooting, but my coach screamed on the track that I did it many times in training and I could do it, I could come back and so I did.”
Clean Shooting; Ski Race Goes to Herrmann
They came to the final standing stage in that order with roughly the same gap. Braisaz and Herrmann side-by-side both cleaned leaving virtually together. At that point, it was suddenly a ski race, with the advantage definitely leaning toward the new German star. Olsbu was alone in third position, 33.5 seconds back, followed by Vittozzi and Skardino. With 1200 meters to go, Herrmann was 12 seconds ahead of Braisaz and pulling away, heading to her second win in a row. Olsbu followed across the finish line in third. Braisaz could take some consolation for second place; she will wear the Yellow Bib in the first competition at Hochfilzen.
Herrmann admitted that the pursuit is a completely different situation than the sprint. “It is a completely different situation from the sprint, but it is the sort of situation that you need to keep within yourself…when I came to the stadium and saw it was windy I knew I had to stay focused. I had good feelings in the zeroing and it was good that I had some seconds of an advantage when I started, so I could take my time to focus.
Laura, Cat and Bed
Even with such a successful week, the double victor was ready to take a step out of the spotlight for a day or two. With a laugh, she commented, “I think Laura coming back next week, so... But I know I can't have this flow every week, but it felt good here. Now I will go home a little to my sister and my cat, because I've been travelling for so long and I miss my bed.”
Happy and in Yellow
Braisaz could take some consolation for second place; she will wear the Yellow Bib in the first competition at Hochfilzen. “I think this last race will be my best memory to take away from Östersund. The moment I arrived to the last shooting range and I was leading it was the first time in my life and for a second I thought 'is it true?'. But I kept the focus and I am very happy.”
On the Podium
Olsbu, after 10th and 7th places in the individual and sprint was happy to finally get a podium spot. “For me it means a lot to be on the podium this week, because I felt that this week I did well, but I was always close and now I am up here.”