Uliana Kaisheva and Simon Fourcade Take IBU Cup Sprints
Clean-shooting Uliana Kaisheva of Russia won the women’s sprint in 20:25.2 at IBU Cup 4 in Osrblie. In the men’s sprint, Simon Fourcade of France also shot a perfect 10 to finish first in 25:10.8.
Second place went in women’s sprint to France’s Chloe Chevalier, 7.5 seconds back, while Kaia Woeien Nicolaisen of Norway finished third, 13.3 seconds behind, both also shot clean.
Germany’s Karolin Horchler missed a podium spot only by .6 seconds. Yuliia Zhuravok of Ukraine finished fifth, 38.5 seconds back; sixth place went to Enora Latuilliere of France, the only athlete in top 6 with a penalty, 43.2 seconds behind.
On a cloudy but calm morning, 94 women stepped on the track to battle for the first medals of 2018. After a results not as good as usual at the last Cup in Obertilliach, the Russian today demonstrated her usual strong performance with a perfect shooting and fast skiing. That is the fifth win of the season for Kaisheva, who continued her domination at the IBU Cup, strengthening her solid position in the Total Score, now 120 points ahead of her closest rival. Chevalier was fast enough to move from third position after the standing to second at the finish. After few World Cup competitions, this was the first IBU Cup start for Nicolaisen. The Norwegian left only 5.8 seconds behind the leader on the last loop, but by the next split point dropped to fourth with a 14.1 seconds gap. Giving it all on the final meters, she managed to take the last podium spot.
In her first competition after giving birth to a baby, Belarus Nastassia Kinnunen (Dubarezava) finished 22nd with one penalty, 1:31.6 behind.
Ready For Battle
Kaisheva was glad to start the year with a win and admitted that the last few competitions were not very successful for her because of the fatigue, “I think that during the Christmas break I totally recovered and ready for the battle!” Regarding the sprint, she added, “I am happy about my win, but to be honest, in the morning I did not feel very well because of this cloudy and grey weather. But for sure, the victory is very motivating.”
In the afternoon, under the same weather conditions, 106 men started in the men’s sprint. Behind Fourcade, second place went to Fredrik Gjesbakk of Norway who also shot clean and missed the win by 4.2 seconds. His teammate Vegard Gjermundshaug despite one penalty finished third, 10.5 seconds behind.
Russia’s Petr Pashchenko finished fourth, 22.9 seconds back; fifth went to the local favorite Martin Otcenas, 36.0 seconds back, while another Russian Dmitry Malyshko finished sixth, 39.1 seconds back. All three shot clean.
Battle on Track
Due to calm winds at the range, many athletes shot clean, so the battle for the podium moved to the track. After the first prone, Fourcade was in third, 5.8 seconds behind Gjermundshaug. In standing, the Norwegian, who today was faster than the French veteran, missed once and left the stadium in fourth, with a 22.3 second gap between him and Fourcade who now moved into first. For Fourcade, in his first IBU Cup start since 2005, this was important in his effort to get back to the national team and he put all efforts to keep the first place until the finish. With his second place, Gjesbakk scored enough points to take the lead in the IBU Cup Sprint Score over his teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen who skips this Cup, while Gjermundhaug moved to second.
@SimonFrk2 , “I would say that today’s race was the most important for me this season because it should help me to go back to the World Cup and maybe qualify for the Olympics."#IBU_Cup pic.twitter.com/b0wcEmDOcU— IBU Cup Biathlon (@IBU_CUP) January 6, 2018
After the finish, Fourcade commented on his set-up for today’s sprint, “Before the competition, I just tried to concentrate, to do a good ski test and warm-up. My goal was to be on the podium and I got a victory. I am a little bit lucky because Gjesbakk was only 4 seconds behind me, but I really hope to repeat this result tomorrow.” Regarding his early start number 23, he added, “After the competition, I went on the track to recover and actually I did not follow the other guys. I just checked the results at the end and was happy to be first.”