Koukalová Sprints to First World Championships Gold Medal
Clean-shooting Gabriela Koukalová of Czech Republic, starting at the back of the field with bib number 96, flew around the tracks to claim her first individual World Championships title in the women’s 7.5K sprint in 19:12.6. Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier also shot clean, wining the Silver medal, 4 seconds back. France’s Anais Chevalier, also shooting clean won the Bronze medal, also her first individual World Championships medal, 25.1 seconds back.
Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi just missed the podium by .2 seconds in fourth, 25.3 seconds back. Her teammate Federica Sanfilippo finished fifth, 31.9 seconds back. Germany’s Vanessa Hinz was sixth, 37.9 seconds back. All of three of these women matched the medalists by shooting clean.
Another sunny afternoon was the perfect backdrop for what turned out to be a thrilling competition with some the medal contenders starting early while Koukalová and defending World Champion Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff starting near the bottom of the start list.
Chevalier Sets the Bar High
Despite the sunny weather this afternoon, the wind hindered some of the early starters on the range. Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina set the ealy best time, but one penalty was too much today. The first woman to clean was Chevalier, who set the bar high and held the lead until Dahlmeier at number 64 took over.
Dahlmeier and Koukalová Battle for Gold
The Yellow Bib number 64, Dahlmeier took the lead after cleaning both stages and pulled away from the field with a brilliant last loop, finishing with 21-second lead. The best mark was set again but the German was not assured of the Gold medal. Koukalová knew the time to beat before she ever left the start house.
The Czech star, shot slower but matched Dahlmeier. As the sun was dropping, leaving shadows, she flew around now slightly icy tracks in the shadows of setting sun to hold her 10-second lead after standing and claim first individual World Championships title of her career.
Koukalová admitted the late start was an advantage., "I think it was very clever tactics of our coaches; I could feel that every loop it is getting faster and faster." Her first individual WCH medal left Koukalová almost speechless. "I know Laura is fast in the last part of the track. I know she is very fast... I thought I was sleeping when I won, I thought it was not real. Is it real?"
Dahlmeier congratulated Koukalová on her win. "For me it was a perfect race today, the goal was to shoot clean, and I shot clean. It was important for me. I would like to congratulate Gabriela with this victory." She added, concerning the pursuit, "I think for the pursuit, everything is possible. It could be a really close race; it is my favorite discipline."
Chevalier was very happy about her Bronze medal, "I didn’t expect an individual medal. I thought I was capable of doing this; I am very happy to have succeeded.”