Laura Dahlmeier Cruises to Antholz Pursuit Victory
Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, after a first prone stage penalty, hit the next fifteen shots, and then cruised the last loop with a comfortable lead to win the Antholz women’s pursuit in 29:45. 17.3 seconds later, Italy’s Dorothea Wierer, with two penalties, delighted the local fans in her home stadium to finish second. Third place went to Darya Domracheva of Belarus, also with two penalties, 20.2 seconds back.
Sprint winner Tiril Eckhoff of Norway finished fourth, with four penalties, 1:09.9 back. Fifth place went to Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen,, with two penalties, 1:18.4 back. Galina Vishnevskaya of Kazakhstan shot clean in sixth place, 1:20.1 back.
Perfect Day in "Suntholz": Dahlmeier Leads after Domracheva and Eckhoff Penalties
It was another perfect biathlon day in “Suntholz;” sunshine, a sold-out stadium and just a slight breeze at the shooting range. Eckhoff led the first loop, took a couple of clicks before her first prone shot; yet missed the last one as did Dahlmeier. Domracheva cleaned easily to take the lead, with Eckhoff on her shoulder and the also perfect Bescond, 5.5 seconds back while Dahlmeier trailed by another five seconds. The two leaders stayed together, pushing the pace and staying together until the second prone stage. They fired simultaneously, but both missed a shot, but Bescond and Dahlmeier cleaned, putting them at the front of the field, heading to the standing stages. Domracheva, Eckhoff and now Wierer chased in that order at 4.7, 11.7 and 12 seconds back.
Three in Front
By the next split, the Belarusian was back in the front pack of now three. Dahlmeier pushed the pace to take the lead into the stadium with Wierer moving ever closer. Domracheva struck first and cleaned first, as Dahlmeier and Eckhoff matched; Wierer again went to the penalty loop. Eckhoff flew out of the range gaining a few steps on Domracheva and Dahlmeier with Wierer now 21.8 seconds back. As is many ties the case, the podium would be decided with the last five standing shots.
Wierer and Domracheva
Coming into the stadium for the final standing, the top three shot together; the German cleaned, while Domracheva had a penalty and Eckhoff had two, while Wierer cleaned. Dahlmeier had a 19-second lead on Domracheva who had Wierer on her shoulder. With Dahlmeier in control, the Belarusian and the local hero battled for second place. Eckhoff, in fourth position was more than thirty seconds behind the duo. With 400 meters to go, Wierer attacked but Domracheva held on. On one of the last turns before the finish, Domracheva hit and knocked away Wierer’s pole and eased off: the Italian, with one pole was in control, taking second place, with Domracheva in third. Domracheva said, “It would be absolutely unfair if I would fight against an athlete with one pole. I was the reason she lost it; even so I was not sure I could beat her. It was not such a nice situation for both of us, but I could not do it another way.”
Lazy Mistake but Perfect Race
Dahlmeier commented on the last loop and the one penalty. “It was in my dreams to be alone on the last loop…it is always great without a fight on the last loop…This was quite a perfect race for me. In the first shooting, I had this lazy mistake but from then, I really happy about this race. It was really perfect!”
Wierer admitted expectations and stress level were high. “I am really happy today; a lot of people expect a podium at home, but it is more difficult with a lot of things to do, interviews…That is really stressful but I was really relaxed today. I felt comfortable on the skis and two mistakes were okay for today.”
Very fair gesture by @DaryaDomracheva, who stepped on Wierer's pole in the last turn and didn't attack on the last 50 meters as a result. #ANT18— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 20, 2018
Join us for the celebrations and the flower ceremony very shortly. https://t.co/Z1cUg23KzH pic.twitter.com/pdLZdN20nE
The third place for Domracheva was another step in her plan heading to Pyeongchang. “I am very happy that it is going better and better step-by-step for me…I think my training plan is working well. So I am looking forward to the next preparation period and the next races.”