First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Germany’s Vanessa Hinz claimed her first-ever World Cup win and first-ever podium, shooting clean to win the women’s 12.5K mass start this evening in 35:47.9. Second place, also a career-best went to Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi, with one penalty, 13.5 seconds back. France’s Anais Chevalier, also with one penalty, finished third, 16.8 seconds back.

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Besides her first win and individual podium, Hinz shot clean in a four-stage competition for the first time in her career. She has gone10-for-10 in several sprints, but never finished higher than fourth place. The new World Cup winner commented, “ I always dreamed of shooting four times clean and today I did it…I cannot realize it (the win)…I was so often close to the podium. I knew I could do it. Today, I said, ‘ok, let’s try it and if it works, it is ok…and if not there is another season waiting and other races. Now I am on top of the podium and it is crazy.”

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Local hero Kaisa Mäkäräinen, wearing Yellow finished fourth, with three penalties, 43.4 seconds back. Fifth went to Olympic Gold medalist Hanna Oeberg of Sweden, with two penalties, 1:02.1 back. Marte Olsbu of Norway finished sixth, with three penalties, 1:07.4 back.

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

“Kaisa, Kaisa”

There was little change in conditions from the earlier men’s mass start to the when he women started, except that it was now getting dark…and the tribunes were filled with rabid Finnish fans shouting, “Kaisa, Kaisa!” Unsurprisingly, Anastasiya Kuzmina the Olympic Mass Start Champion led the first loop, with the local hero wearing Yellow just behind her. Both had a penalty, while 18 of the 30-woman field cleaned the first prone, led by Vittozzi, with her teammate Wierer on her shoulder. Hinz and Laura Dahlmeier were out of the range next.

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Domracheva Leads
As they approached the second prone stage, Darya Domracheva was in the lead with Dahlmeier just behind her. The two leaders both missed and went to the penalty loop, giving he lead back to Vittozzi with Hinz, Chevalier, Oeberg and Maren Hammerschmidt close behind, all within five seconds and more than 10 seconds ahead of the field. The Yellow Bib was back in 8th position after cleaning the second stage, with Domracheva beside her.

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Group of Five
The group of five entered for the first standing single file but together. Hinz, Chevalier and Vittozzi all shot deliberately and cleaned. That put the group 24 seconds ahead of the fourth woman, Franziska Hildebrand. Mäkäräinen and Domracheva after an additional penalty were now in 8th and 10th, 40 seconds from the podium. At the 8.6K split, the two had closed down 10 seconds on the lead group.

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Hinz 20-for-20 and the Win
Vittozzi led the trio at the top of the Wall, with the pursuers still closing in before the deciding standing stage. Hinz went 5-for-5, making her 20-for-20 on the day, while her rivals went to the penalty loop. Still Vittozzi and Chevalier left in 2nd and 3rd, but 23.6 and 26.3 seconds back. Mäkäräinen with another penalty loop was in fourth, but 51 seconds back.

Smile and a Bow
Hinz cruised the last loop for her first podium and first World Cup win of her career. She crossed the finish line with a huge smile, a wave, and then bowed to the crowd before raining her arms in elation. Vittozzi and Chevalier stayed almost side- by-side, with Mäkäräinen desperately trying to catch them as they crested the Wall. The Italian maintained the gap to finish in a career-best second place, with Chevalier in third.

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Joke and Reality

Hinz shared what was said earlier in the day about the mass start. “Today is Franziska Preuss’ birthday and we were joking a bit. She had a really good mass start at the World Championships and I told her I would try to do the same. Now it is real!”

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Finally Above Third
Vittozzi had a streak of third, fourth. and fifth places broken with today’s second place. “I have been third so many times and that was not satisfying for me. Today I am very happy about my second place.”

 First World Cup Win for Vanessa Hinz in Kontiolahti Mass Start

Nice to Be on Podium
Chevalier severely injured after being hit by a car last spring and missing months of training was elated to be on the podium once again. “I am very happy to be here today, because it was a very hard season. I forgot how nice it is to be on the podium…I forgot that it was not easy, so I am very happy…I did my best on the last lap; she was faster. But I am third and happy with that!”

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