Dorothea Wierer comes back; wins IBU WCH 15 Km Individual Gold
Italy’s Dorothea Wierer went from 24th to 17th to 9th to IBU 15 km Individual World Champion in the span of just 43:07.7 this afternoon, taking her second Gold medal of these Championships. Wierer had two penalties in the first two stages on her way to becoming the first Italian woman to win his title. Vanessa Hinz of Germany won her first-ever individual IBU WCH medal taking Silver, with one penalty, a mere 2.2 seconds back. Marte Olsbu Røiseland won the Bronze medal, her fourth in these Championships, with two penalties,, 15.8 seconds back.
“You have to fight; you have to win”
Wierer, usually full of chatter seemed almost speechless for a moment, hesitating before saying, “It is really great for me. I did not see this (coming) because I had one, one and I was not sure if I could make some zeroes, because I was shaking a lot especially in the standing shooting. The last loop was really hard. One moment I was thinking Silver; it would be great for me. And then I was thinking, ‘you have to fight; you have to win.’”
“Then I was first!”
She admitted that she heard virtually nothing on the last loop from the coaches because of the deafening cheers from the crowd. “I felt pretty good on the skis today, but that last one is always pretty hard for me; for my head to fight. But honestly I did not hear my coaches because there were so many people. I was just going full gas.” Adding with her well-known giggle, “Then I was first!”
Hinz’s teammate Franziska Preuss, also with two penalties finished fifth, 1:03.4 back. Sixth place went to Monika Starega-Hojnisz of Poland with two penalties, 1:10.1 back.
Defending IBU 15 km Champion Hanna Oeberg of Sweden finished fourth, with two penalties, 38.7 seconds back.Defending IBU 15 km Champion Hanna Oeberg of Sweden finished fourth, with two penalties, 38.7 seconds back. Although the Olympic 15 km champion missed the podium today, her fourth place did secure the small Crystal Globe for the Women’s Individual Score title.
Sunshine and Blue Skies, Shifting Wind
Sunshine and a clear deep blue sky greeted the women and a packed stadium this afternoon, with once again almost spring-like +5 temperature and the wind shifting frequently from right to left and back again, making clean shooting a challenge. Favorites Oeberg and Tiril Eckhoff each had a single penalty while Starega-Hojnisz and others cleaned the first prone stage. Number 18 Olsbu Røiseland put her name quickly in the list of contenders by cleaning confidently and fast to jump into the lead by 9 seconds. Hinz showed she would contend with the third fastest first stage.
Hinz into First
Oeberg got back on track with a perfect first standing stage to reset her hopes of defending her title from last season. Just a bit later, the Polish biathlete added a second clean stage to move in front. Olsbu Røiseland battled the wind, and missed her first shot, dropping her to second position. Hinz, after a top 3 prone time, cleaned her first standing stage to move into first position, setting the bar for the rest of the field.
Wierer Moving Up
Oeberg continued to roll by cleaning the second prone stage while Hojnisz-Starega shot slowly to go15-for-15, keeping her in first. Olsbu Røiseland got back into rhythm with another clean stage to move up to second. Hinz continued to ski well coming into the second prone stage. She shot fast, remained perfect and headed to the last standing stage as the leader. Wierer after two penalties cleaned her second prone stage as the wind died down to move into ninth position, but 1:19 behind.
Hinz, then Wierer in the Lead
Hojnisz-Starega came to the last standing with a medal on the line and the last two shots, ending her chances. Oeberg also missed a shot but briefly took the lead. The Norwegian was thinking medal and like her closest rivals, missed a shot, but her faster skiing put her again briefly into the lead. Hinz missed her perfect day with one missed target, but she still left the range with the lead. Then Wierer found more magic after skiing a very fast loop adding another clean stage to leave 2.2 seconds faster than Hinz.
Digging Deep in Last Loop
The last loop determined the Gold medal. Skiing alone, Hinz was all out in the last part of the course, straining every muscle until crossing in first, thrilling the mostly German crowd. After crossing she held her skis, smiled broadly, thinking that she had won a World Championship. Yet, Wierer continued to hold her torrid pace, still 2.1 seconds up on Hinz at the 13.6 km split. With 300 meters to go, her lead was down to just a second. The Italian put her head down and dug every ounce of energy as she entered the stadium to the cheers of the crowd and grabbed the Gold medal, just ahead of the German with Olsbu Røiseland in the Bronze medal spot.
“Play with the big girls”
Hinz said that it was not until recently that she felt able to compete at the top level. “The start of the season was hard…After Ruhpolding, I got the feeling back that I could play with the big girls! It is getting better and better. We had a perfect preparation in Ridnaun. The whole team was pushing each other. We love Antholz. After the Silver medal of Denise, it was so good for the whole team. I am very happy with today.”
Career-best 15 km
Olsbu Røiseland had the best 15 km of her career and was accordingly very proud of that. “I am really happy with my performance today. 15K has not been my race for many years. This is my first podium and first time 18 hits this year. I am so happy. I had so many mistakes in this race before. Today I was really motivated to do a good job and I knew I could do better than I have showed in the last years. I am so happy with the race and I got a Bronze for it as well!"
Photos: IBU/Petr Slavik, Christian Manzoni