Dorothea Wierer wins IBU WCH Pursuit Gold in home stadium
Italy’s Dorothea Wierer, locked in a Gold medal battle with Sprint World champion Marte Olsbu Røiseland, came away with a single penalty in the last standing stage, while her rival had two, sealing the IBU World Championships Pursuit Gold medal in her home stadium. Wierer with just that one penalty finished the 10 km competition in 29:22. Germany’s Denise Herrmann, with three penalties outskied Olsbu Røiseland in the last loop to win the Silver medal, 9.5 seconds back. Olsbu Røiseland in the Bronze spot, also with three penalties finished 13.8 seconds back.
The now two-time IBU World Champion, who also won the 2019 Mass Start World Championship, knew the last standing was crucial. “In the last shooting, I was thinking it does not make any difference how many mistakes I make, but of course it was that first one. But Marte had some more. This is an amazing feeling.”
“I Attacked from the Start”
Wierer was going for the win from the start today after a slightly disappointing sprint 7th place where the consolation prize was regaining the coveted Yellow Bib. “I was really happy to race today because I had much better feelings than in the sprint. I felt it from the start that today I was in really good shape. So I attacked from the first meters and I was really confident on the shooting even if my zeroing was really bad. I was just trying to enjoy it (wearing Yellow and the win.)”
Hanna Oeberg of Sweden, with two penalties, finished fourth, 22.3 seconds back. Herrmann’s Teammate Vanessa Hinz, with one penalty finished fifth, 26. 8 seconds back. Ivona Fialkova of Slovakia, with two penalties had the best day of her career, improving from her previous personal best of 9th in Friday’s sprint to her first Flower Ceremony in 6th place, 35.7 seconds back.
Strong shadows, with a few clouds drifting over the mountain peaks, -2C, and almost no wind were the perfect set-up for the first pursuit competition of the day. Olsbu Røiseland pushed hard from the outset, trying to increase the gap between her and the field. She paid the price with one penalty while Dunklee cleaned to grab a 10 second lead. Wierer also was perfect, moving up to just 2 seconds behind the Norwegian as they left the stadium. Preuss, Herrmann and Oeberg followed but 27 seconds back.
Italy/Norway Duo in Front
Wierer pulled a ski-length ahead of Olsbu Røiseland as they closed into less than 2 seconds behind Dunklee before the second prone stage. The Italian attacked with five fast perfect shots, as did Olsbu Røiseland; Dunklee went for a penalty loop. Herrmann cleaned to move to third, 14.4 seconds back of the leaders, with Oeberg now up to fourth, 22 seconds back and he US biathlete next at 28 seconds.
Leaders in Lockstep
The Italian initially set the pace but he Norwegian took over about 1 km into the third loop, with Herrmann closing to gap to less than 10 seconds back. The two matched closing targets perfectly and left in lockstep. The German picked up another penalty, but still held third position, but 38 seconds back. Dunklee and the perfect-shooting Hauser were next, but 48 seconds from the leaders heading to the deciding standing stage.
Wierer Wins Shooting Range Battle
Neither of the leaders ceded a meter over the 2 km loop heading to the last standing stage, with each moving in and out of the lead. Both shot fast then cautiously after misses, but Wierer got away with one penalty while Olsbu Røiseland had two. Herrmann hit four shots before missing the final one. She and the Norwegian left the loop together, 24 seconds behind Wierer. Hinz left in fourth but Oeberg was just behind.
Victory at Home
With victory secured, Wierer skied the last loop at a steady but stress-free pace, actually gaining time while her rivals battled for the Silver medal. the Yellow bib came to the stadium, slapping a few hands, smiling and pumping her arms as the crowd roared for the lady from just down the Antholz valley won her career-second IBU World Championship in her home stadium. Herrmann showed her track speed in the final 300 meters to secure the Silver medal over sprint titlist Olsbu Røiseland.
Everything is Possible
Hermann knew she had a chance for a medal. “My position before the race was not so and I knew that everything is possible in the pursuit. It was nearly the same position as last year and tried to remover Östersund. The last days I felt good in skiing but the shooting range was not working for me. I was focused today and trying to do my best…when I came to the last shooting, I saw some mistakes and thought maybe it is possible…I tried to stay behind Marte and make a full attack at the end because I ma fast at the end. It was a fantastic fight.”
Tough, Long Last Loop
Olsbu Røiseland was smiling and pleased with her day. “It was an amazing race. I was fighting with Dorothea the whole time. She is the home favorite and it was so loud on the track and stadium. To be in position 1 in the last shooting was an amazing experience. I heard she had one mistake in the first shot. I started thinking of I hit five now, I can get a new Gold medal. That was a really stupid thought…I got two mistakes and it was a tough, long last loop.”
Photos: IBU/Petr Slavik, Christian Manzoni