“Amazing…I enjoyed this winter”
Braisaz-Bouchet was shocked and thrilled with her win, taking her first-ever small Crystal Globe. “It is incredible. It is the best story I live. I do not know (the secret to my mass start success). I am enjoying. I really enjoyed this winter all the way along; it was amazing. I could not imagine such an amazing thing.”
Coming to the last standing, she was unsure of the win, but “I was just trusting my chance. I love this venue…I knew there were 10 girls fighting for the podium, so I just took my chance. I was focused on my targets and took good pleasure to shoot. I had a quick look on the other targets and saw that there was one penalty for each girl. I realized it would be tough but I was happy.”
Sweden’s Linn Persson, who led early outsprinted teammate Elvira Oeberg for fourth place, finishing 13.6 second back to Oeberg’s fifth place 13.7 seconds back. Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold finished sixth, 14.1 seconds back. All three women had two penalties on the day.
Marte Olsbu Roeiseland culminated her season with the third place finish but also finally was able to hold the prize she worked for all season long: the Big Crystal Globe for the World Cup Total Score. “I do not know what to say. I think the overall is the biggest prize you can get in biathlon. To be one of the athletes who has one is crazy. I have worked for it for such a long time. I really tried last year. I had no idea it would be my turn this year. The Olympics were my big goal; I did not race the World Cup in Antholz and it was enough after all. I am just so happy.”
Elvira, second to Braisaz in the World Cup Mass Start Score by two points came up with also ended the season with an award. She took the under 25 Blue Bib title while also finishing second in the World Cup total Score behind Olsbu Roeiseland.
The last day of the season was just as bright and beautiful as the previous two were with sunshine, +8C, the usual wind on the range and tribunes packed with fans waiting to see the top 30 women duke it out one more time. The big prize today was the World Cup Mass Start Score Crystal Globe that would likely go to whomever crossed the finish line in first place. Elvira led the pack into the first prone, but Julia Simon cleaned the fastest getting away in front of 12 other women who also shot clean. Olsbu Roeiseland, Hauser, Dorothea Wierer and Preuss followed the French leader out of the stadium.
The Yellow Bib led the pack into the second prone but ended up with a penalty while Elvira shooting in lane two cleaned along with Lisa Theresa Hauser and Persson; the Austrian led the trio from the stadium, with Wierer also perfect another four seconds back. Eight women remained penalty-free.
By the 5.9 km split, Persson was setting the pace for the leading trio, with Wierer slipping a bit farther back, skiing solo in fourth position. By the range, Elvira was on lane one but missed one shot. Hauser cleaned as Persson also went to the loop. Wierer rapid-fired her five targets to jump into second. Olsbu Roeiseland recovered with five centered shots to leave four seconds behind the Italian who was 16 seconds behind Hauser.
The Yellow Bib skied with abandon on the lap into the deciding last standing stage, passing Wierer, attempting to close the gap to Hauser. She was not alone; four other women were within 20 seconds of the leader coming into the range for the final time this season. Hauser shot fast, missing her last shot as did the Norwegian and the other contenders. Coming out range unscathed was Braisaz-Bouchet in the lead. Hauser after a quick loop was just 5.6 seconds back, with clean-shooting Hettich in third.
With 1600 meters to go the Olympic Mass Start Gold medalist had a dozen seconds on her pursuers. Preuss pulled a few seconds away from Hauser who was now within the sights of Elvira and Olsbu Roeiseland waiting to pounce for the last podium spots. The French star easily held the lead to win the season’s final competition, smiling and waving to the crowd in the last 150 meters. Preuss held on for second with Olsbu Roeiseland crossing in third place.
Preuss, closed the book on an injury and Covid-filled season with a strong second place. “I am really satisfied with my race today…It was a hard fight and a hard challenge to be cool. The sprint here was a disaster and then the pressure fell away. I just wanted to make biathlon and just have fun. To finish second means a lot to me.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni