Dahlmeier Takes Pokljuka Sprint
Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier won the women’s 7.5K Sprint today, in 19:51.7. Justine Braisaz of France finished second with her first individual World Cup podium hit, 3.5 seconds back. Third went to Norway’s Marte Olsbu, 21.3 seconds back. All three women shot clean as in the earlier men’s competition.
As 105 competitors lined up at the start for women’s sprint this afternoon, he sky over Pokljuka darkened, but the shooting range wind flags remained still. The competition saw a thrilling battle, with constantly changing leaders, many clean shooting performances and the top 20 finishing in just over a minute.
Powerful Start for Eckhoff
Sprint World Champion Tiril Eckhoff shot clean in prone to take an early lead, but one standing penalty pushed her down the standings. The 19-year old Braisaz replaced her atop the leader board with clean shooting and amazing ski speed. That set the bar high for the rest of the field.
Dahlmeier’s Miraculous Last Loop
Braisaz looked like the winner until Dahlmeier’s speedy last loop put the Yellow Bib in the top spot. Olsbu challenged both women with clean shooting, but she slowed in the last loop to finish third, just ahead of Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen, with one penalty.
Dahlmeier has many reasons to love Pokljuka, “I like Pokljuka, because of the fabulous Bled lake. It’s very beautiful, the weather here is always very nice. I am also used to altitude because of the Alps.”
She was unsure of the victory even with her big lead. “Some really strong athletes started late, and I was not sure of my win after the last athlete was at the finish line.”
Braisaz admitted she had no special feeling before the competition. “I am really happy about the race today. I didn’t believe my coaches when they told me I was in the lead. Before the competition, I didn’t want to leave my bed this morning, I didn’t feel confident.”
Olsbu said she did not expect a podium before Christmas. “It is a very good surprise. My goal this season was to fight for the podium, but I didn’t think I could make it before Christmas.”
Regarding the pursuit, she added, “It will be a good fight. Kaisa starting right behind me, this will be very difficult.”
Slovakia's Anastasiya Kuzmina debuted in Sprint after her come-back to World Cup circuit. She hit all ten targets to finish in an impressive 6th place. She was satisfied about her performance, "I had a hard last loop, but being in 6th at the first competition is fantastic."