IBU OECH 15K Gold Medal to Chloe Chevalier
Chloe Chevalier of France, flying around the tough Ridnaun tracks overcame one penalty in the first prone stage to win the IBU OECH Gold medal in the women’s 15K individual in 46:32.9. The Silver medal went to the home team’s Alexia Runggaldier, who shot clean but finished47.7 seconds back. Victoria Slivko of Russia, also shooting clean won the Bronze medal, 55.9 seconds back.
Fourth went to Yulia Zhuravok of Ukraine, shooting clean, but 56.4 seconds back. Her teammate Irina Varvynets matched on the shooting range, finishing fifth, 1:07.6 back. Sixth place went to Slivko’s teammate Svetlana Mironova, with three penalties, 1:26 back.
Warm, Shooting Range in the Shadow
The women had almost spring-like conditions for their competition: bright sunshine with the thermometer reading plus 6C. As the sun started to head west, the shooting range, bright and sunny in the morning now sat in the shadow of the mountainside.
With the sun behind the mountain, shooting conditions were very good, yet hitting all 20 targets was a challenge, as with the men. In the early stages, this looked simply about a battle between early starters Kaia Woeien Nicolaisen, two of her teammates, Irina Varvynets of Ukraine and Runggaldier. As each one came to the shooting range, the targets dropped. Varvynets shot faster but the Norwegians matched each time.
Chevalier Takes Charge
In the last standing stage, Varvynets came in first, and missed her first shot of the day, Nicolaisen did the same. Then the home team’s Runggaldier cleaned to jump from the second spot into first. Her position looked safe until Chevalier, skiing fast but with one penalty after three stages, cleaned the final standing stage to take the lead. She continued to add to her margin over the last 3K loop until she had a 47.7 second lead over he Italian at the finish.
*Furious Last Loop for Slivko Nets Bronze Medal *
Over the whole competition, number 36 Zhuravok was putting together a strong run for the podium with four clean stages; just three seconds behind Runggaldier after the final standing stage. The Ukrainian was unable to close that gap, slowing on the last loop, but held on for the third spot until late starter Slivko showed up. The Russian also shot clean in the last standing stage, but left 15 seconds behind the Ukrainian. In a furious last 3K loop, she closed the gap with each kilometer, until lunging across the finish line just .5 seconds ahead of Zhuravok for the Bronze medal.
*Chevalier “Relaxing was the Key” *
Chevalier admitted the one penalty was good for her. “After that penalty in the first prone, I relaxed and did not worry about the result. I just enjoyed being out on the tracks on a beautiful sunny. Maybe the key to success is relaxing and not worrying about the result.”
Medal at Home
Runggaldier, who won an IBU WCH Bronze medal in this same competition last season, enjoyed winning a medal at home in Italy. With a big smile, she said, “It is very nice to win a medal at home. I was sick in December and have been getting back in shape, so this is very good; very good for my confidence going into Pyeongchang. I knew if I shot clean in the last standing, I had a chance. But I was worried about that last loop.”
*Slivko had a single motivation on the last loop. “The coaches told me I was 18 seconds back, then 15 seconds; the thought of winning a medal was all of the motivation I needed for that hard last loop.