Anastasiya Kuzmina Skis to Sprint Gold Medal
Two-time Olympic Sprint Gold Medalist Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia after one prone penalty, skied a very speedy last loop to secure her first-ever first IBU World Championships Gold medal this afternoon, taking the women’s sprint in 22:17.5. Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold of Norway shot clean to take the Silver medal, 9.7 seconds back. Laura Dahlmeier of Germany won the Bronze medal, matching the young Norwegian on the range, but finishing 12.6 seconds back.
Kuzmina with tears in her eyes was overwhelmed by her victory. “It is a magical feeling. I did not expect this with one mistake. I was always thinking that it would take two zeroes to win. I did it just like my first Gold medal in Vancouver with one mistake. Today I had one and this is also my first world Championships Gold medal. It is unbelievable."
The new Sprint World Champion was on the edge about even starting today after struggling with illness including laryngitis in recent days. “The sickness probably helped me; I saved some of my powers. When I went to the start today, I did not expect anything. I did not think about the race and that probably helped me...After the Olympics my biggest goal was to win (IBU WCH) Gold; I realized my best chance was in the sprint. This morning we were deciding to start or not and decided to take a chance. I tried and succeeded.”
Swedish teammates Hanna Oeberg and Mona Brorsson, both with one penalty, finished fourth and fifth, 13.2 and 21.7 seconds back, respectively. Dahlmeier’s teammate Denise Herrmann who replaced the Bronze medalist in yesterday’s mixed relay had two penalties in sixth place, 23.9 seconds back.
Cloudy, Windy and Cold
Cloudy skies with the thermometer at a chilly -6C and a few snowflakes in the air greeted the women on the second day of the 2019 IBU World Championships. It seemed even colder as a strong wind was blowing almost directly in the athlete’s face on the shooting range; a normal tricky shooting day in Östersund.
Tandrevold then Mäkäräinen in Front
Number 14 Alimbekava cleaned prone quite fast to set the initial bar for the rest of the field. Not far behind, former World sprint Champion Eckhoff came through the first split with the fastest time but had a single penalty in prone, while current number two woman Wierer missed two shots, as did the Yellow Bib Vittozzi. The 22-year-old Tandrevold then took control, cleaning to grab a 4 second lead. Brorsson followed shortly with an even faster prone stage to jump in front. Just after that her teammate Oeberg shooting very quickly earned a penalty loop, as did Kuzmina. Everything changed when Mäkäräinen came to the range with a 23 second lead. She carefully dropped the five targets to take a solid seven second lead. Dahlmeier cleaned slowly but left 17 seconds back.
Tandrevold 10-for-10; Kuzmina Challenges
The Belarusian cleaned to take the lead again while Eckhoff fell off the pace with a second penalty. Wierer making up time on the tracks quickly cleaned to put her back in the mix. Tandrevold continued on her roll with another clean stage for a perfect 10-for-10, to take the lead by 14 seconds, seemingly looking like a winning formula. Kuzmina skiing at her normal furious pace changed that. After the missed prone shot she came to standing and went 5-for-5. That put her just 1.9 seconds back. The Finn missed two shots to fall 35 seconds behind, but Dahlmeier was again perfect on the range. That put the 2017 Sprint Silver medalist in the third spot with 2.5 K to go.
Bronze Like Gold
Dahlmeier, like Kuzmina has felt less than 100% recently, thus not starting in the mixed relay. “It is in some ways special for me. I had a little cold. I also just decided this morning to start. I thought it was important to have good shooting then everything is possible. Now, I am so happy about this medal. This Bronze medal feels like a Gold medal to me.”
Kuzmina Flies to Gold in Last Loop
Tandrevold was in complete control going into the last loop, willing her way to the finish for the lead. Kuzmina flew around the last loop trying to catch the young Norwegian, gaining with each meter. As she came down the last hill to the finish, it was obvious that the two-time Olympic Sprint Gold medalist would take the lead. Oeberg continued to make up time in the last loop, slipping briefly into third. However Dahlmeier ran the last loop with the same steady effort of the previous two, crossing in the same spot that she left standing, third place, dropping her Swedish rival to the fourth spot.
Take My Chance
Tandrevold knew the conditions today might give her an unexpected chance for a medal. “It is unbelievable; my first World Championships. Before the start I heard that many of the favorites were missing targets in the hard conditions so I said ‘take your chance.’ I succeeded and am really happy.”