Denise Herrmann Shines at German Championships
Denise Herrmann was simply the shining star at the German Championships this past weekend in Altenberg. Herrmann dominated the three days of competition with superb skiing and impressive shooting in the sprint and pursuit. When the dust settled Sunday afternoon, Hermann had claimed an impressive sprint/pursuit double and the Bronze medal in the short individual behind young Janina Hettich.
The men’s competitions were quite different with three different titlists: Johannes Donhauser taking the short individual, Dominic Schmuck the sprint and Simon Schempp on top in the pursuit.
The weekend back-to-back sprint/pursuit competitions were highly competitive on the men’s side, while Herrmann’s track prowess buried her rivals both days.
After a long summer of training, the season started for the German team and guests that included the Swiss men, the Czech Republic men and women and Latvia’s Andrejs Rastorgujevs. Short individuals kicked the competitions last Friday under mild +16C conditions, with cloudy skies and a light breeze cutting across the shooting range. Excellent shooting was the key to getting into the top two spots in both the women’s 12.5 km and men’s 15 km.
Youth Prevails: Hettich Tops Women’s Field
The ladies were first up with Janina Hettich, the youngest member of the German 1A team taking the top spot. The 24-year-old Hettich, with just a single penalty in the last standing stage crossed as the German Champion in 37:42.1. Maren Hammerschmidt, continued her drive back to elite status, finishing second, 14.4 seconds back also with one penalty. Third went to Denise Herrmann, 1:03.1 back, with five 45-second penalties. Herrmann, as always completely dominated the tracks, touring the tough Altenberg layout 1:56 faster than the winner Hettich.
Marketa Davidova was the top finisher for the guest Czech Republic finishing 11th with five penalties.
Donhauser’s Perfect Victory
Like the women’s competition, youth ruled in the men’s short individual with 23-year-old Johannes Donhauser shooting clean to claim the German title in 37:30.8. His teammate Dominik Schmuck matched on the shooting range, but finished 27.4 seconds back in second place. Third place went to 2020 IBU WCH Relay Silver medalist Roman Rees with single penalties in the first prone and last standing stages, 1:35.2 back.
Fourth place Benedikt Doll, with four penalties was like Herrmann the fastest man on the tracks, 30.2 seconds faster than Arnd Peiffer, also with four penalties in 9th place. Doll was completely pumped by his skiing, commenting, “The long climb here in Altenberg is mine; need to shot better to get in the top three.” The top guest finisher was Czech Republic’s Adam Vaclavik in 12th place, with five penalties, 3:54.2 back.
Wire-to-wire for Herrmann
Herrmann started her big weekend with a dominating clean-shooting sprint win, flying across the finish line in 19:47. She led from wire-to-wire, with no one ever really challenging despite good shooting throughout the field. The ex-cross-country skier’s track skill was obvious when the results found second place Sophia Schneider 1:13.8 back, despite just a single penalty. Franziska Preuss matched Schneider on the range, but finished third, 1:23.1 back. Individual titlist Hettich also had a single penalty in fourth place, 1:46.1 back. Herrmann was “happy to defend my sprint title” with a “perfect race.”
Davidova was again the top finisher among the guest competitors, in eighth place, 2:23 back with three penalties. Her teammate Jessica Jislová was ninth with one penalty, four seconds farther back.
First Title for Schmuck
The men’s sprint was a hard-fought tussle between eventual Gold medalist Schmuck and Doll. Schmuck’s clean shooting barely prevailed in 24:25.3. Doll controlled the competition early with a clean prone stage and his ski speed. However, a missed standing shot and the penalty loop proved to be too much and Doll finished second, 3.4 seconds back. Philipp Horn finished third, with two penalties, 24.2 seconds back. Veterans Simon Schempp and Arnd Peiffer were on Horn’s heels, 29.7 and 31 seconds back, putting them in good positions for the pursuit.
Czech Republic’s Jakub Stvrtecky finished ninth, with two penalties, 1:07.4 back while Switzerland’s Benjamin Weger was 11th with one penalty, 1:18.9 back.
Herrmann Buries Pursuit Field
Herrmann’s dominating sprint win transformed into a pursuit rout, turning her 1:13 head start into 3:39.2 by the time she finished in 29:31.3, sealing the sprint/pursuit double. She was just as dominating on the range as the tracks, cleaning the first three stages, before a single penalty in the last standing stage. Franziska Preuss finished second with four penalties. Friday’s short individual winner Hettich finished third with three penalties, 3:44.9 back.
Davidova, also with three penalties, again held the top spot among the guests, finishing just one place behind Hettich, 4:14.7 back. Her teammate Lucie Charvátová, with three penalties made the biggest move of the day, jumping from 13th to 7th at the finish, 4:27.1 back.
Schempp Defends Pursuit Title
Simon Schempp’s ski speed was just enough to move from fourth at the start to first place in the men’s pursuit, defending his German Championship from last September in 31:38.2. Schempp had two penalties, one in the second prone stage and the another in the first standing stage. Second place went to Roman Rees, with one penalty, 29.1 seconds back. Philip Horn matched his sprint place taking third place again, with four penalties, 42.7 seconds back.
Czech Republic’s Michal Krcmar was the top men’s guest in 7th place, with four penalties, 1:17.5 back.
In both the men’s and women’s competitions, there were some promising results by younger athletes, showing that the German pipeline is still talent-filled.
The three competitions highlighted Hermann’s continued improvement on the shooting range; more 29-of-30 shooting results will take her even higher than her third place in the Women’s World Cup Total Score of last season. Behind her, Preuss looked solid and Hettich seems poised for big steps in the BMW IBU World Cup competitions.
For the men, Rees and Horn had solid results, showing the consistency. Rees now seems poised to take a spot on the World Cup team, while Horn could be better than his 18th place of last season in the Men’s World Cup Total Score. Doll was as strong as ever on the tracks, but still needs a bit more shooting stability. Schempp proved once again that he still has the tools to lead the men’s team, while Schmuck might be ready to graduate from the IBU Cup circuit.
Photos: IBU/Harald Deubert