Kaisa Mäkäräinen Sprints to Tyumen Pursuit Victory
Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen summoned all of her sprint power in the final 50 meters of this evening’s women’s pursuit competition to claim victory over France’s Anais Bescond. Mäkäräinen, with two penalties, finished in 30:52.7; just .2 seconds ahead of Bescond who had a single penalty. Third place went to Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, with one penalty, 17.5 seconds back.
Gap Closed; Kaisa in Yellow, Total Score, Big Crystal Decision in Mass Start
Mäkäräinen’s victory closed the gap between her and Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina down to just 4 points, with the Finn now in Yellow meaning the World Cup Total Score and the big Crystal Globe will be decided in the final competition of the season, tomorrow’s 12.5K mass start.
*Mäkäräinen admitted, “It is not important who is wearing Yellow on the start; it is more important who is wearing it after the finish line!”
Pursuit Globe to Kuzmina
Sprint winner Darya Domracheva of Belarus, with three penalties, finished fourth, 35.1 seconds back. Fifth place with a World Cup personal best result went to Dahlmeier’s teammate Karolin Horchler, with one penalty, 46.8 seconds back. Kuzmina, with four penalties, finished sixth, 59.9 seconds back. The sixth place finish was enough for Kuzmina to claim the pursuit Crystal Globe, her second ever.
Back under the Lights
The sun was setting and the lights were on by the time the women started. Otherwise the conditions were similar to the men; clear, cool with a moderate wind on the shooting range. Domracheva led into the stadium but missed a shot while Mäkäräinen cleaned to take the lead by 26 seconds after the first prone. Bescond and Kuzmina, also clean followed in third and fourth, 35 seconds back.
Penalty for Kuzmina
Mäkäräinen came to the second prone with a significant lead, but had a penalty. Kuzmina also missed, while Bescond, Domracheva, and Dahlmeier all cleaned. The French veteran led the Finn by a single stride with Dahlmeier and Domracheva just behind, while Kuzmina was now 19 seconds back.
Group of Four
The group of four came to the first standing stage side-by-side, with Kuzmina closing in on them. Dahlmeier on lane 1 cleaned as did Bescond and Domracheva. They left within 3.5 seconds. Mäkäräinen left one target unclosed slipping to fourth, now 25 seconds off the pace, while Kuzmina added two penalties to fall back more than a minute.
that was a strong mental performance by @kmakarainen to take the win ahead of @BescondAnais in the #TMN18 pursuit. Third place for Dahlmeier. Join us for the flower ceremony on https://t.co/Z1cUg23KzH pic.twitter.com/8a1eVg29xu— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) March 24, 2018
Mäkäräinen and Bescond Duel to Final Meters
Unlike the men’s pursuit, the final standing stage would determine the podium. Dahlmeier set up on lane 1 again, but missed a shot, as did Bescond while Domracheva missed two. Mäkäräinen cleaned but shot slower; the Finn and Bescond left together. Dahlmeier was third but fading as they left for the last loop. The two leaders battled around the tracks with Mäkäräinen holding a small lead. On the last uphill, Mäkäräinen attacked to take a 15-meter lead. But on the final downhill, Bescond powered by great skis came back. She pushed Mäkäräinen all the way to the finish, with Mäkäräinen winning the sprint by less than half a meter. Dahlmeier held on for third.
Last Standing and Last Loop
Mäkäräinen commented on the crucial last standing stage. “I was not thinking about anything special before the last standing. I was thinking that I would only focus on what I am doing; that it was quite windy when I came there. I heard that the girls in front of me shot some penalties, but I thought maybe it was not that easy…I was a little lucky and I was able to make it.”
She added on the dramatic last loop. “I skied as fast as I could and hope that the other girls were more tired than I was…I saw Anais was behind me…and I was deciding what was the right tactic…I know she is strong in the end so I tried in the last uphill…
The German women received their Crystal Globe for winning the World Cup relay title.
The Italians took home their first-ever team Crystal Globe for winning the World Cup Mixed Relay title this season.
“I Know Me and I Know Kaisa”
Bescond had her first World Cup podium of the year. “I am happy about this race. I expected a podium since the beginning of the season. Now I am happy to realize this really nice race today.” Regarding the last loop, “I know me and I know Kaisa; we are the opposite. She is strong on the uphill and my best part is in the flat place. I just tried to lose as little time as possible on the last hill and push hard in the end. I was confident I could win in the sprint, but I was not strong enough.”
Dahlmeier admitted her last range time hindered her today. “It is nice to be back on the podium in an individual race. I know that the last shooting is always important in the pursuit…One miss is okay but I took too long on the range and that is not why I was not able to ski with these girls on the last loop.”