Sixth Victory for Tiril Eckhoff with Oberhof Sprint Win
Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff continued her winning ways this afternoon, claiming her sixth victory of the season and an Oberhof Hat Trick with her third consecutive win in 2021, taking the second women’s 7.5 km sprint in a one-penalty 22:33.8. Italy’s Dorothea Wierer shot clean but finished second, 9.3 seconds back. Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser finished third for the third consecutive time this month in Oberhof, shooting clean but 12.6 seconds back.
“Good enough to win”
Eckhoff who moved closer to the Yellow Bib with her third consecutive sprint win felt said, “Today I felt it was a very good biathlon race. I was in very good shape and very good mentally. I just did my regular training and it was good enough to win today.”
Eckhoff outran her one penalty, spurred on by her coach’s confidence in the Norwegian star. “My trainer always says to me you to have much better confidence, because you can win with one mistake. That is something not everybody can do. Today I did that again and I am very happy for that.”
French teammates Justine Braisaz-Bouchet and Anais Chevalier-Bouchet both shot clean, finishing fourth and fifth, 19.4 and 23.5 seconds back respectively. Germany’s Franziska Preuss with one penalty finished sixth, 33.5 seconds back.
Cloudy Day; Prone Shooting Battle
This afternoon was pretty similar to what the men had yesterday for their sprint, overcast skies, -3C temperature and a light breeze that kept the wind flags lightly fluttering on the range, resulting in plenty of clean stages and numerous lead changes. Number 2 Julia Schwaiger cleaned prone to start the day atop the prone standings. She was then topped by Chevalier-Bouchet just after the Olsbu Roeiseland missed one shot to put her 27 seconds behind her French rival’s pace. Oeberg shot faster than her rivals but also missed a shot that eventually kept her out of the podium race. Hauser remained on form with a quick first loop that turned into a clean prone stage, less than a second behind Chevalier-Bouchet. Wierer then upped the ante with a typically fast clean stage to move .6 back of the leader. Yet, once again, it was Eckhoff who continued her brilliant run of success with the fastest prone stage, 5.7 seconds ahead of the field, setting the bar for those to follow.
Schwaiger, skiing well also dropped all five standing targets but did not have the ski speed to match later starters. The French pair made it known they were going for the podium when Chevalier-Bouchet went 10-for-10 and Braisaz-Bouchet matched to put them 1-2. Hauser was not to be denied, answering with a fast five target-closing shots to leave just .9 seconds behind Braisaz-Bouchet. However, Wierer once again downed the targets with ease to jump to the top of the leaderboard by 3.9 seconds over Eckhoff who picked up a penalty.
Eckhoff Flies to Victory in Last Loop
The two French teammates continued their hot pace on the last loop, but were overtaken by Hauser with 500 meters to go. Eckhoff was also flying getting a few tenths of a second ahead of Wierer and Hauser at the 5.8 km split. By the 7 km mark, Eckhoff was 5 seconds ahead of the Italian, in control, continuing to pull away until she crossed the line with another victory. Wierer also with a good finish was just fast enough to push Hauser into the last podium spot ahead of the French duo.
Bowled Over by Success
Hauser continued to be bowled over by her success. “I do not know what to say…speechless… my third podium in a row and third place here in Oberhof. It is just amazing. For me the really good thing was that I had 0-0 today. I was really working to reach it. Somehow, I think I can get used to third place!...I am really glad that my shape is good so it is much more fun to compete here.”
“Top Shape Missing”
Second place Wierer shooting clean for the first time since the Annecy Le Grand Bornand sprint in December 2019, thinks she is heading upward but feels she has a way to go to top form. “I felt much better this weekend. Of course, I am happy that I had 0-0 in a sprint. I has been a long time since I had that. We had really good skis, so all together, it was second place today…My top shape is still missing but I know what I have to do and what is missing. We have some weeks before the World Championships; I have to work on some details and I hope then I will be back in my best shape.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni