Hochfilzen Pursuit to Anastasiya Kuzmina
Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia won for the first time since March 2014, cleaning the last two standing stages and cruising to victory in the women’s 10K pursuit this afternoon in 34:31.2 at Hochfilzen. The winner’s only penalty came in the first prone stage. Kaisa Mäkäräinen of Finland passed sprint winner Darya Domracheva of Belarus in the final meters to take second place, with two penalties, 10.2 seconds back. Domracheva, with a single penalty finished 11.8 seconds behind Kuzmina.
Italy’s Dorothea Wierer finished fourth with two penalties, 51.6 seconds back, while Norway’s Marte Olsbu and Ukraine’s Juliya Dzhyma, each with one penalty were fifth and sixth, 58.2 seconds and 1:08 back, respectively.
More Snow: Slow Tracks
The snow that the men battled in the morning continued for the women, with maybe a bit less intensity. However, the tracks remained slow and deep. At the same time the stiff breeze on the shooting range remained in place, complicating shooting.
Domracheva Leads in Prone Stages
Domracheva maintained her lead on the first loop, skiing comfortably in the deep snow, with Kuzmina closing the gap before the shooting range. However, Domracheva cleaned the first prone while the Slovakian had a penalty, staying second but 26 seconds off the pace. Fenne, Hildebrand and Tandrevold followed after shooting clean. The gap stayed the same as the top two approached the second prone stage with the snow intensifying once again. Domracheva shot slowly and cleaned for a second time; Kuzmina matched while shooting faster, moving up to 8.8 seconds back. Mäkäräinen after a first stage penalty went 5-for-5 to slide into third position, but 40 seconds back with Vita and Wierer just behind.
*Kuzmina 10-for-10 in Standing; Mäkäräinen in Second *
As the leaders headed to the first standing stage, Kuzmina pushed hard and closed the gap. Domracheva had a penalty, but Kuzmina cleaned after waiting a long time for the last shot. That gave the Olympic Sprint Champion a 12.7 second lead over the Belarusian heading to the last standing stage, with the Mäkäräinen another 5 seconds back. The Finn pushed hard to move into second position, as Kuzmina pulled further ahead and Domracheva slipped back. Kuzmina struggled to hold her rifle still but cleaned while the Finn missed a shot; Domracheva also cleaned and left 8.4 seconds back, with Mäkäräinen chasing 13.2 seconds behind the Belarusian star. Kuzmina held the gap to claim the win. Domracheva battled to catch her but Mäkäräinen flew up the last hill to get even with Domracheva. They came to the stadium together, with the Finn easily pulling into second place at the finish line.
First Win Since Oslo 2014
Kuzmina’s first win since the 2104 Oslo mass start did not come easily. “It is always great to be on the podium and especially in first position. After yesterday, I thought I had a chance, but it was not easy for me, especially on the shooting range; I could not catch my breath…I just tried to stay positive. I took a long time on the last shooting, but finally it was good.”
First Podium of Season
Mäkäräinen had her first podium of the season. “It was an exciting race from the start. I was quite relaxed. I had really good skis and that was why I was able to catch Darya…today I shot better and that is also why I made it to the podium.”
Not an Easy Race
I tried to fight with Kaisa to the finish line but she was stronger. Overall, it was not an easy race with such weather conditions. Like Anastasiya, I think I took some extra time for that last shot, but I had 19-of-20 and that is very good.”