Uliana Kaisheva and Vegard Gjermundshaug Take IBU Cup Sprints
Uliana Kaisheva of Russia shot clean on the way to her second win at IBU Cup 4 in Osrblie, taking the women’s sprint in 20:20.3. In the afternoon, the victory in the men’s sprint went to Norway’s Vegard Gjermundshaug with one penalty, who finished in 25:21.5.
Another Russian Irina Uslugina finished second without penalties, 1.3 seconds behind, while one more clean shooter Germany’s Karolin Horchler finished third, 1.6 seconds back.
Yesterday’s third place Kaia Woeien Nicolaisen of Norway today missed the podium spot by mere .1 seconds. Luise Kummer of Germany finished fifth, 23.3 seconds behind, while Karolin’s sister Nadine, with the only penalty in top 6, finished sixth, 28.3 seconds back.
Conditions during the second sprint day stayed almost the same as yesterday: gray skies and calm winds at the shooting range, but today’s competition was much more thrilling with four top athletes finishing within 2 seconds. As the track became softer near the end of the sprint, the early start number 1 became an advantage for Kaisheva, who showed her best in the final lap. After the first and second shooting, where she was as accurate as yesterday, the Russian was more than 8 seconds behind the leader. At the last split point, where Uslugina was first, Kaisheva’s gap was 6.5 seconds. Showing great speed and perfect skiing on the last kilometer, she reduced this time and did not allow later starters to overcome her. Uslugina, who was the leader after the prone and standing, lost her advantage in the final meters and crossed the finish line in second. Yesterday just .6 seconds separated Karolin Horchler from Nicolaisen, who took third place. Today, the German kept Nicolaisen off the podium, finishing .1 seconds ahead of the Norwegian.
After the finish, Kaisheva commented on her second victory in a row, “I was sure in my strength today and that I would make it to the top 6. I managed to work good on the last kilometer; maybe I could save some powers during the first legs, but I did not do it on purpose. The first part of distance was a little bit tough, but it is usually hard for me to start and easy to finish.”
Behind Gjermundshaug, second place went to yesterday’s winner Simon Fourcade of France also with one penalty, 21.5 seconds back. Germany’s Florian Graf shot clean to finish third, 27.3 seconds behind.
Petr Pashchenko of Russia matched his result in the first sprint, finishing fourth with one penalty, 47.8 seconds back. Fifth went to a first year senior Milan Zemlicka of Czech Republic, also with one miss, 48.3 seconds behind. Fabien Claude of France finished sixth with two penalties, 53.4 seconds back.
Despite calm conditions at the shooting range, just a few competitors managed to shoot clean today. As in the women’s sprint, the fate of the Gold medal was decided on the last loop. Leaving .4 seconds behind Fourcade after standing, due to his great speed, Gjermundshaug reduced this gap until the next split and increased his lead up to 21.5 seconds at the finish. After his third place in the first sprint, today the Norwegian scored his first individual win at the IBU Cups. As Gjermundshaug, Fourcade also missed once in standing, but was slower on the final lap, finishing second. Only sixth after the prone, but with a clean standing stage, Graf moved to third and kept it until the finish line.
Gjermundshaug was very glad about his first win, “I’m so happy now with my first Gold medal at the IBU Cup. Honestly, I did not feel very well on the track today, but I can say that these are kind of “my conditions”. At the standing, I made a mistake with a last shot because I was nervous and a bit shaky.” And with a smile, he added, “Yesterday I was really happy with my third place but today it is much better!”