Soerum’s shaking legs
Soerum, disappointed with the penalty but happy about the win explained, “Nine perfect shots and then I could not hold the rifle still. My legs were shaking worse than they ever have before. But the girls and Alek did a great job and saved the win. I am not happy about my leg, but we are all happy that we won.”
First podium for Oberthaler and Jacob
Second in the single mixed went to Austria’s Kristina Oberthaler and Patrick Jacob, with seven spares, 1:02 back. The Austrian’s podium was the first of their career for both Jacob and Oberthaler. Jacob commented, “Out coach told us last night that we needed to get on the podium today so we could celebrate tonight and we did it.” France’s Paula Botet and Emilien Claude, with fourteen spares finished third, 1:19.2 back.
Sweden, with one penalty and nine spares finished fourth, 1:38 back. Ukraine with eight spares finished fifth, 1:54.4 back. Germany, with two penalties and fifteen spares, 2:03.3 back.
The Norwegians, with that single penalty and nine spare rounds finished 15.4 seconds ahead of the second-place German team that recorded the best shooting of the day, with a penalty and four spares. France finished third, with one penalty and eleven spares, 1:19.2 back after Gilonne Guigonnat dashed past Sweden’s Johanna Skottheim in the last kilometer to secure the last podium spot. Sweden, with one penalty and nine spare sounds finished fourth, 1:28 back. Italy with one penalty and fourteen spares finished fifth, 1:51.5 back. Austria, with two penalties and twelve spare rounds, finished sixth, 2:09.4 back.
The final competition day of the 2022/23 IBU Cup season was a spectacular winter day: -9C, bright sunshine, clear blue skies outlining the Rocky Mountain peaks and very light winds on the shooting range. From the start, the competition quickly developed into a Norway/Germany duel. Lucas Fratzscher and Andersen both went 10-for-10 tagging second legs Soerum and Philipp Horn in a dead heat. The rivals continued the head-to-head tussle and the perfect shooting, both closing their prone targets with ease. Their battle ended when Horn cleaned standing and Soerum struggled. After hitting the first four shots, he could not control his rifle, reset several times, eventually ending up on the penalty loop, giving Germany a 58-second lead.
“Maybe we can beat the Norwegians next year”
Horn said, “Lucas and I really shot well today and the girls brought us home some seconds behind the Norwegians. We really had a good race, very close and are quite happy to be second in this final mixed relay. Maybe next year, we can beat the Norwegians!”
Mareike Braun took the tag with a 55 second gap on Kalkenberg; then blowing her big lead in the prone stage with a penalty. From that point, the Germans never got closer than the eight seconds at the last exchange between Kirkeeide and German anchor Juliane Fruehwirt. The Norwegian used three spares in her leg, while the German needed only two. After a careful standing stage with a single spare, Kirkeeide skied home with the win; Germany securely in second.
With the top two places set, Guigonnat left the range hunting Skottheim. With 500 meters to go, the budding French star passed the Swede to bring the French team to the last spot on the podium.
The thermometer read -2C by the start of the season’s last IBU Cup competition, the single mixed relay. By the end of the first leg, Norway was on top although Uldal used two of their spare rounds. From that point they went unchallenged.
At the first exchange, Uldal tagged Johansen with a13-second lead over Ukraine and 16 seconds ahead of Italy. Johansen used a spare to clean prone and was gone with Oberthaler now in second 16 seconds back. It took Johansen five shots in standing to stretch the Norwegian lead to 33 seconds by the second exchange.
Uldal was perfect in prone in his second leg adding a half dozen seconds to his lead. The Norwegian shot fast in standing, but needed a spare to close his fifth target, further extending the lead to 45 seconds over Austria at the last exchange.
Johansen needed just five shots to clean prone and was gone before Oberthaler was on the range. The Austrian used a spare, leaving second with Ukraine’s Khrystyna Dmytrenko outshooting Botet, bringing Ukraine back to third position. Five final shots sealed the win for Norway; Oberthaler used two spares but left safely in second while Botet rebounded with just one spare round, getting away in third, with the podium set.
Botet despite her comeback in the last standing stage admitted it was not her best day. “My first leg was a catastrophe! I used all my spare bullets. The second one was not much better but it was good enough to get us on the podium. That was our goal.”
Photos: IBU/Harald Duebert