Kaisa Makarainen’s standing perfection brings Oberhof mass start win
Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen cleaned the standing stages on a very windy afternoon to secure the Oberhof women’s mass start in 39:58.9. Mäkäräinen, with just a single penalty in the first prone stage. She claimed her first win since the 2018 Hochfilzen pursuit. Norwegians teammates Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland finished second and third, 30.2 and 35 seconds back with four and three penalties, respectively.
Makarainen who turned 37 yesterday said the key to cleaning the last standing stage was to wait. “I just had to wait. There was no other chance. When I came and was on the position, the wind was okay, but here the wind changes so fast and I had no other chance but to wait. I hoped that the other girls would wait too, but it was worth it today!”
Although she shot well today, Mäkäräinen admitted that Oberhof has been a tough place for her, although it is similar in some ways to her home stadium in Kontiolahti. “Kontiolahti is windy but it is nothing compared to Oberhof. Oberhof is special, very special. Only a few times in my career have I been shooting well here. Normally I shoot a lot of penalties, but I like the range approach, It is a little like Kontiolahti; it is a long flat that keeps your pulse stable. I have trained a lot in that kind of place so maybe that helped.”
Amazing to Win
Regarding winning for the first time in 13 months, she added, “It is amazing. I was so nervous today in this race. It is so amazing that I can be on the podium, on the top of the podium, so I hope that I do not get any questions about my age anymore! Today, I proved that I can still fight against the younger ones.’
Dorothea Wierer of Italy retained her Yellow Bib in fourth place with five penalties, 1:08.8 back. Germany’s Denise Herrmann finished fifth, with six penalties, 1:25 back while Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg was sixth, with five penalties, 1:38 back.
Wintery Windy Day
Today again looked and felt like Oberhof winter with some fog and a stiff breeze making the -3C temperature feel much colder. The wind was the strongest of the week, making shooting a huge challenge.
The first 2.5 km loop was very controlled with all 30 women staying in contact in a long train with Justine Braisaz in front. Red Bib Eckhoff, the Annecy Le Grand Bornand mass start winner opened with a quick clean prone stage to take the lead. Seven other women also cleaned and left within the next 10 seconds. Wierer with a single penalty was 25 seconds back in 10th position. Very quickly, local favorite Herrmann moved out of the group of six to get just a few strides behind the Norwegian. The two were side-by-side by the time they got back to the stadium for the second prone stage.
Second Stage to Eckhoff
Eckhoff again was perfect in the second prone while Herrmann picked up a penalty. Irina Kryuko matched the Norwegian but was 18 seconds back, followed by Fialkova. Mäkäräinen cleaned to move up dramatically to fourth after a first stage miss; now 32 seconds back.
Kryuko and Makarainen
Heading to the first standing stage, Eckhoff was all alone, adding to her lead with each stride, while Makarainen closed up to get on the Belarusian’s shoulder. With the wind blowing very hard, Eckhoff cracked with three penalties. Kryuko and Makarainen both cleaned to go out 1-2, just seconds apart. With most of the rest of the field also missing, Eckhoff got away in third position, but 46 seconds behind the two leaders.
Waiting...to Shoot Clean
Makarainen quickly moved into the lead, heading to the last standing stage. She came into the stadium in the lead for the first time this second. With the wind blasting at them, both women waited and waited until the Finn cleaned assuring her first victory of the season, number 27 in her career. Olsbu Roeiseland and Eckhoff both had a penalty but moved into second and third, but 50 seconds back.
The Finn skied the last loop all alone, enjoying a victory loop, crossing the finish line joyously pumping her arms and ski poles. In the final meters, Eckhoff slipped past her teammate for second place with Olsbu Roiseland rounding out the podium in third.