Lisa Vittozzi Wins Oberhof Pursuit for Second Career Victory
Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi had never led or won a pursuit competition before today; now she has done both after taking the Oberhof pursuit, with two penalties in 32:32.9. With this win, the young Italian doubled her World Cup victory total form one to two. Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia after moving into second just before the final standing stage, held that spot, despite four penalties, 14.5 seconds back. Anais Chevalier of France finished third, with five penalties, 27.9 seconds back.
Tired, Calm but Happy
Vittozzi did not expect to win today, but was still smiling about it. “I am so happy. It was not an expected victory because I am feeling so tired. I tried to stay concentrated on the shooting range and it was enough to win…It was strange because I was always alone in the race; I knew the girls behind me were strong…I tried to stay calm.”
Oberhof Women's Pursuit
Chevalier’s veteran teammate Anais Bescond finished fourth, with four penalties, 36.2 seconds back, while the Yellow Bib Dorothea Wierer finished fifth with three penalties, 37.4 seconds back.
Preuss: 45th to 6th
The most spectacular run of the day was by Germany’s Franziska Preuss in sixth place, with two penalties, 54.7 seconds back. Preuss started in 45th position, 1:48 back, shooting well in the windy conditions to make it to the flower ceremony with her best result of the season.
Windy: No Clean Shooting
After a couple of days of smaller crowds, more than 20,000 spectators were on hand for today’s pursuits. After a couple of bitter sprint days, the temperature today was around freezing with the typical changing wind on the shooting range and a few random snow showers from time to time. The at times blustery wind caused many a penalty loop, resulting in no one shooting clean.
Holding the Lead
Vittozzi left the start with a five-second lead, which Chevalier quickly erased. The two came to the first prone together, about 15 seconds ahead of the field. Vittozzi cleaned quickly while Chevalier missed three times and fell off the pace. Most of the field missed at least a shot as the wind gusted, with Hanna Oeberg now up to second but 42 seconds behind the Italian with Marte Røiseland and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold just behind Wierer moved up dramatically from 24th to 7th with a more typical 5-for-5.
With a 44-second lead, Vittozzi missed the first shot in the second prone, but she was off the loop before anyone else. Oeberg, likewise missed a shot was 43 seconds back, with four others, including Chevalier just behind.
Battling the Wind
The leader battled the wind in the first standing, as did her chasers. Vittozzi came away with a single miss, but her teammate in the Yellow Bib, Wierer shot brilliantly fast and clean to jump to the second spot but 31.9 seconds back. Bescond also hit all five shots and left on Wierer’s shoulder.
A Crash and Clean Shooting
Before they got to the range for the final time, Wierer grabbed a drink along the course and crashed into Bescond. This changed everything behind Vittozzi, pushing Kuzmina up to second and Wierer back to the third spot. Vittozzi struggled mightily in the wind, but cleaned the last standing, getting away with a 20 second lead. She commented, “I knew I had to shoot clean for the win.” Kuzmina took advantage of moving up after the mishap with a clean stage, safely in second. She left chasing the young Italian for the win, but could not close the gap. The last loop became a rather hard victory lap for Vittozzi as she celebrated her second win. Chevalier and Wierer left almost together but Chevalier was stronger and finished safely in third.
Kuzmina admitted that conditions today were simply strange. “The beginning of the season was not perfect for me but now I am stronger and stronger. Today was strange conditions on the shooting range; always changing…It was a little bit like a lottery for everyone today.”
Oberhof: “Anything Can Happen”
We had very good skis like every day. I am not really satisfied with my race because I did a lot of mistakes. But we are in Oberhof and anything can happen!”