Dorothea Wierer holds on for Kontiolahti 15 km Win
Italy’s Dorothea Wierer, leading by 35.1 second after the last standing stage, slowed in the last loop, but held on to win the Kontiolahti Women’s 15 km individual this afternoon in 44:00.9. Wierer who shot clean had to push hard in the last 600 meters to preserve the win and her clutch on the Yellow Bib, edging Germany’s Denise Hermann by a mere .8 seconds for the win. Hermann with a single penalty finished second. Johanna Skottheim of Sweden finished on the podium for the first time with a clean-shooting third place, 24.1 seconds back.
Two Swedish teammates followed: Elvira Oeberg, with one penalty in fourth and Linn Persson, shooting clean in fifth, 34.1 and 36.8 seconds back respectively. French veteran Anais Bescond, also with one penalty finished sixth 1:18.5 back. The Swedish dominance of the day continued with Hanna Oeberg in seventh place.
Hard Last Loops; Good Shooting
Wierer was pleased with her victory although she admitted to struggling on the last two loops. “It is a good feeling to be back on the podium. I was really happy about my shooting today. It was really hard for me on the tracks especially the fourth and last loops. I am not in great shape at the moment, but I hope with more races it comes slowly.”
She added concerning her shooting. “I just did what I do in training. I feel very comfortable at the moment, so I was just concentrating on what I had to do, not the targets. That is the key to good shooting.”
Nighttime conditions for Women
Conditions remained similar from the earlier men’s competition except that it was complete darkness, as Mona Brorsson led the 103-women field out of the start for their first competition of the new BMW IBU World Cup season. She and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold set the tone with clean first prone stages. Olympic and World Champion Hanna Oeberg came to the range a bit faster than anyone else but picked up a penalty while Hermann followed with the same result. Wierer started her season with a clean prone stage, but after shooting cautiously, was in the second spot behind Lisa Theresa Hauser.
Wierer takes charge
Brorsson was the first women into standing and matched her perfect prone result. Persson matched Brorsson and went one better with a .1 second lead. After her prone miss, Hermann skied the loop quickly and came back with a very efficient clean standing stage to move just 22 seconds behind the Swedish duo. Yet, the Yellow Bib calmly matched to take the lead.
Herrmann battles back
Persson went to 15-for-15 and an almost 30 second lead. Despite continued good track speed and another clean stage, Herrmann tried to move past Persson but even with five perfect shots, still remained 13 seconds back. Wierer was not to be denied, shooting with a very quick cadence, stretched her lead to 28 seconds. Anais Bescond downed her 15th straight shot to move to second position behind Wierer.
Brorsson regained her composure, after a third stage miss to clean the last standing stage. Persson shooting with total confidence downed her last five targets for the lead. However, Persson’s shooting perfection was not enough to hold back the flying Herrmann. The German’s last clean stage on the back of her fast skiing put her in the lead for the moment. Once again, Wierer cleaned to take a comfortable 35-second lead with 3 km to go. After missing an early shot, Elvira Oeberg put in her podium bid with a clean last stage, moving up to fourth, just 6.5 seconds behind her teammate Persson with 3 km to go. Then, Skottheim jumped ahead of all but Wierer to head into the last loop with a shot at the podium.
Last Loop Podium Battle
Persson crossed first, but the competition was in the hands of Wierer and Herrmann. The German star came to the line next to move into the top spot. Wierer was tiring and her lead was down to 7.7 seconds at the top of the Wall, with 600 meters to go. The Yellow Bib pushed hard on the relatively flat last stretch and with a lunge, crossed the line with the win, a mere .8 seconds ahead of Herrmann. The younger Oeberg sister skied a brilliant last loop, gritting her teeth and furiously sprinting, she overcame Persson but to little avail. Her teammate Skottheim, after a 20-for-20 day was one better than both her teammates and took third place.
After her spectacular finish, Skottheim was all smiles, commenting, “I feel amazing at the moment…so, so happy about today’s race…Since I had a really good race here at the end of last season, of course I have good memories from this arena. But individuals are quite difficult but I am really happy about today.”
Herrmann and the IBU World Cup Total Score
Herrmann continues to improve, especially in shooting and now has the confidence to fight for the IBU World Cup Total Score. “I have confidence in myself and think about technique every shooting stage; it (shooting) was fine for me…The World Cup overall is the highest you can have as an athlete. I know I can be good shape all year, but this year is so special. We are happy that we have normal competitions and have all the girls who can fight for victory with us. That is my big goal but you have to do all the races and not skip one because of Illness. I hope it will work well.”