Germany’s Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss 1-2 in Kontiolahti Sprint 

Germany’s Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss 1-2 in Kontiolahti Sprint 

German Teammates Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss, both with a single penalty finished first and second in this evening’s snow-blown women’s Kontiolahti women’s 7.5 km sprint. Herrmann controlling the competition from the start was unchallenged in her wire-to-wire 20:00.5 win. Preuss finished 20.1 seconds back. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff, with two penalties finished third, 32.3 seconds back.

First Globe for Denise

Herrmann’s third win of the season brought her the Women’s World Cup Sprint Score title and the first small Crystal globe of her career. “It is an amazing feeling. I heard at the start gate that I was currently second in the overall for the sprint. I was not thinking about the Globe in the sprint because I also had some bad sprints. Dorothea had the Red Bib; I was not thinking about it, but now I am super happy.”

“Girls are more tough than the boys”

Regarding the tough conditions which the men did not face yesterday, she remarked, “The girls are more tough than the boys, for sure. The weather forecast shoed it was windy today but the snowfall was not in the forecast. That is why I was in the front of the first group. I was struggling before the start; thinking about this, ‘is it good or not.’ Normally it is not so perfect to start in the front of the field when it is snowing, but the competition was fair; similar for every athlete, snowing all the time. The main important thing was to stay clean or not have many mistakes. I had some lucky situations that I am happy about.”

Germany’s Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss 1-2 in Kontiolahti Sprint 

“I am not so motivated”
Herrmann’s teammate, second place Preuss said it was not an easy day for anyone. “Today was not a nice race, especially the first loop. I thought, ‘oh, I am not so motivated today.’ There was a strong wind form the side; it was not so easy to ski. The shooting range was not so easy to handle. I did my best especially after my first mistake. I thought, ‘wake up and do not do any mistakes more;’ it worked well. I am really happy to share the podium with Denise.”

Lisa Vittozzi had her second best result of the season in fourth place, with one penalty, 37.1 seconds back. Marketa Davidova of Czech Republic, also with one penalty finished fifth, 42.5 seconds back. Monika Hojnisz-Starega of Poland, one of the few clean shooters in the field, finished sixth, 47.3 seconds back.

Germany’s Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss 1-2 in Kontiolahti Sprint 

Snow and Wind; Herrmann Leads
The women had a wintery like early evening for their final sprint competition of the season with gray overcast skies, -2C, with a strong wind crossing the range accompanied by moderate snowfall. Bib number 2 Herrmann started the day by taking the lead that she never relinquished at the first split; she followed her fast start with a steady clean prone stage. Her teammate Preuss missed one shot, while Davidova shot much faster than Herrmann but left trailing by 13 seconds, despite shooting clean. Eckhoff skied the first loop almost as fast as Herrmann, but after taking a couple of clicks still picked up a penalty, putting her 36 seconds back. Vittozzi had a strong perfect stage to move into the top group. Wierer, slower into the prone stage, shot fast as usual but also picked up a penalty and was never in podium contention. Number 44 Kuklina moved into contention with a steady perfect prone stage, putting her 20 seconds back.

Preuss Moves Up
With fairly heavy snow falling, Herrmann again shot carefully but missed one standing shot. Preuss after a prone penalty became one of the first to clean standing, moving into the second spot, behind her teammate. Davidova like Herrmann missed one shot, putting her 24 seconds back. Vittozzi after cleaning the prone stage fell in line with her rivals, missing one shot, but she left the loop in fourth just a second behind Davidova. Eckhoff added another miss, putting her 32 seconds back as she left the range. Kuklina came to the range and shot clean in dark conditions with snow and incoming fog to leave in third, tied with Preuss 14 seconds back, but she slowed dramatically in the last loop to miss the podium.

Germany’s Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss 1-2 in Kontiolahti Sprint 

Eckhoff’s Steady Last Loop

Herrmann was typically strong in the last loop extending her lead over Preuss from 14 seconds after standing to 20 seconds at the finish. Eckhoff was steady in the last loop, not gaining any time and losing just 2 seconds, moving into third 32 seconds while Vittozzi, despite her strong shooting lost five seconds in the last loop to finish just behind the Norwegian.

Germany’s Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss 1-2 in Kontiolahti Sprint 

Crossed Fingers

Eckhoff’ third place moved her up to just 26 points behind Italy’s Dorothea Wierer in the Women’s World Cup Total Score. She was happy about that, but concerned about how the season would end. “Well, yes (I am happy) but I heard some rumors that there might not be some ski race tomorrow. I cross my fingers and I hope that we will compete for the people that are locked in and can’t do anything but watch TV; I cross my fingers that we can entertain them!”

Regarding her day that included two penalties, she added, “There was a lot of wind; very different wind situations. It was not easy to do biathlon today, but I am very happy with my one and one. It was close on the last one and I am a little bit angry with myself…so I need to work hard

Germany’s Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss 1-2 in Kontiolahti Sprint 

Season Ends on Saturday
Eckhoff’s crossed fingers comment precluded the decision that the Saturday pursuit competitions will be held as scheduled. *The IBU Press release explained,
“Due to the rapidly-evolving situation around the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and following close consultation with coaches and national team leaders, the IBU has decided that the BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon in Kontiolahti will conclude tomorrow (14 March) after the Men and Women Pursuit Competitions, marking the end of the 2019/2020 season. The mixed relay competitions scheduled or Sunday March 15 will not take place.”

Photos: Christian Manzoni