First-ever Victory for Yuliya Dzhima in Pokljuka 15K Individual
Yuliya Dzhima of Ukraine rightfully crossed the finish line of the women’s 15K individual this afternoon with a huge smile on her face; she had just won her first World Cup title with 20-for-20 shooting in 43:06.6. Second place, also a career best went to Poland’s Monika Hojnisz, with one penalty, 5.9 seconds back. Following with her first podium in third place was 21-year-old Marketa Davidova of Czech Republic, also with a single penalty, 16.5 seconds back.
Fourth in this highly competitive women’s individual was Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova, with two penalties, 19.5 seconds back. Latvia’s Baiba Bendika shot clean but Was fifth, 20.8 seconds back while Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi with one penalty was sixth, 27.1 seconds back.
Oeberg Early Leader
Good shooting conditions remained for the women this afternoon, but the tracks remained soft with the temperature rising above freezing. As with the men, there was plenty of good prone shooting in the first stage; Olympic Champion Hanna Oeberg of Sweden at number thirty deftly cleaning the first prone to go to the top of the leader board. Not as fast but also cleaning were Wierer, Preuss, Dunklee and Anastasiya Merkushyna, at 5, 19, 21 and 22 seconds back. Dzhima was back in ninth, 17.5 seconds back The biggest casualty of the first prone was Kaisa Mäkäräinen wearing Yellow who immediately missed four shots, taking her out of contention.
Coming to the first standing, Oeberg again cleaned very quickly to move her 5 second lead in the previous stage out to 30 seconds as Preuss and Dunklee moved into second and third initially, until Dzhima moved into the third spot. Wierer and her teammate Vittozzi, both with penalties slipped to 1:05 and 1:28 off the pace.
Three Clean Stages
Number 47 Hojnisz took control in the second prone with clean stage number three, jumping ahead of the field as the early leaders Preuss, Dunklee shot clean and Oeberg with a penalty fell behind. Hojnisz was pressed by even later starters Davidova and Dzhima who also had three zeros by their names. Bendika meanwhile was also moving up after her third clean stage.
What a performance by Yuliia Dzhima of Ukraine! 20/20 and that will be the first World Cup victory for the 28 year old. #POK18— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) December 6, 2018
Follow the 15km live on https://t.co/Z1cUg2llYh pic.twitter.com/f2DSEKCow0
Dzhima Cleans; Takes Charge
The battle for the top spots seemed to shift to the Italians and Bendika in the final standing stage with the Italian duo grabbing the top spots for a moment. However, the competition was heating up behind them. Numbers 37 and 39 Bendika and Fialkova both cleaned with the Latvian going out on top and the Slovak in third. Five minutes later, Hojnisz picked up a penalty but still left ahead of both of them, but only by the narrowest of margins, .2 seconds. Davidova also missed one during the final standing stage but still jump to second position 12.7 seconds back. Then number 94 Dzhima calmly closed all five targets, enthusiastically skiing from the stadium with a 15.3 second bulge on the field
She was unchallenged on the last loop, taking her first World Cup win.
Later than Planned
Dzhima, the first-time World Cup winner and Olympic Relay Gold medalist admitted this victory was later than planned. “I actually hoped to be in first place last year so that is why I decided to start this year with a victory! I am very happy with that…”
Regarding the last group and training at Pokljuka for much of the summer, she added, “I was trying to decide between the 1st and 4th group and I got lucky…I did train with the Slovenian men here; I would like to thank the president of the Ukrainian federation for allowing this and Uros Velepec for letting me train with the men.”
Power for Last Loop
Hojnisz last on the podium with a Bronze Pursuit medal at the 2013 IBU WCH was prepared for a hard last loop. “I am happy about today; the individual is a good distance for me; I am not a sprinter, so I tried to do my best on the track but leave a bit of power for the last loop. I did not know I was first until after the last shooting, not before. I was surprised and tried to push on the last loop with some fast girls in front of me.”
Davidova, the multi YJWCH medalist was simply speechless with her big day. “I did not expect this; it is really nice to be here with the girls. I have no words for this.”