Uliana Kaisheva and Antonin Guigonnat Win Lenzerheide IBU Cup Pursuits
Russia’s Uliana Kaisheva doubled up today winning the IBU Cup women’s pursuit, with two penalties, in 31:02.9 just one day after winning the sprint title. In the afternoon, Antonin Guigonnat of France matched Kaisheva, taking his second Gold of the week. He had three penalties on his way to a pursuit win in 33:59.8.
Kaisheva matched her last year’s success when she also won the first pursuit of the season. Second place went to her teammate Daria Virolainen also with two penalties, 1.3 seconds back. France’s Chloe Chevalier with bib 10 started the competition 1:03 behind the leader, but with clean shooting moved to the third at the finish, 25.1 seconds behind.
Emilie Aagheim Kalkenberg with two penalties finished fourth, 1:06.9 back. Italy’s Nicole Gontier moved from the 13th to 5th with three misses, 1:08.9 behind. Yesterday’s third place Yuliia Zhuravok of Ukraine missed four times to finish sixth, 1:09.0.
Calm winds at the shooting range and gray cloudy skies welcomed the athletes for the final competition day in Lenzerheide. Starting from the first stage, Virolainen, who went for a penalty loop after each standing stage, was leading a pack. She was followed by Kaisheva, who started her competition with a miss in the first prone, adding to that a penalty at the first standing. For last loop, both Russians left within 2.4 seconds with Virolainen in the lead. Step by step, Kaisheva reduced the gap on her teammate, overcoming her on the last uphill and finishing first.
Kaisheva was satisfied with her win. “I am very happy with this IBU Cup and my two Gold medals, which for sure give me more motivation for the next competitions.”
Behind Guigonnat, Norway’s Fredrik Gjesbakk finished second matching the French athlete at the shooting range, 13.2 seconds back. Third went to Alexey Slepov of Russia, who climbed from 18th place with only one penalty, 21.3 seconds back.
Another Norwegian Aslak Nenseter finished fourth with one penalty, 29.0 seconds back. His teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen was fifth with three penalties, 38.9 seconds behind, while Russia’s Alexey Volkov moved from 20th to 6th with one missed shot in the last standing, 58.5 seconds back.
Guigonnat started his competition with a penalty in the first prone, letting the clean-shooting Gjesbakk to pass him. That was the only time Guigonnat gave up the lead. Dropping all the targets in the second prone let him take back the first place from the Norwegian, who missed once. While Guigonnat was increasing his advantage over the rivals up to 59.5 seconds after the third shooting, Slepov made only one mistake at the first prone, cleaning all other stages and regaining places. At the final standing, Guigonnat missed twice, still leaving the stadium with a 20-seconds advantage. Now it was a battle of the three Norwegians and a Russian for the two last spots at the podium. All shot clean and left within 4 seconds. Gjesbakk and Slepov proved to be stronger on the track, leaving his rivals behind by the next split point. They finished in the same order.
Guigonnat was happy about his three medals in Lenzerheide but said that still could do better. “I am really satisfied with this week, but I have a bit of disappointment after the single mixed relay, I missed the first place there because of the penalty loop. But still, I am really happy with my results and hope that they can give me a spot in the world cup team for the next week.”