Lucas Fratzscher and Karoline Erdal Win First IBU Cup Sprints
Lucas Fratzscher of Germany took the first season’s sprint title at IBU Cup 1 in Sjusjoen, Norway with only one penalty, finishing in 28:33.1. Later in the day, Karoline Erdal of Norway finished in 26:21.4 first despite three penalties.
Second place in the men's sprint went to Austria’s Harald Lemmerer with also one penalty, 5.7 seconds behind. Aleksander Fjeld Anderesn of Norway took the last podium spot despite three penalties, 17.3 seconds back.
Andersen’s teammate Fredrik Gjesbakk became fourth with four penalties, 55.0 seconds behind. Oscar Brandt of Sweden finished fifth with just two misses, 1:06.7 back, while another fast Norwegian Sindre Pettersen was sixth with five penalties, 1:07.3 behind.
No Clean Shooting
The first competition day of the new 2019/20 season kicked off in Sjusjøen with the men’s sprint. Light snow and challenging wind gusts crossing the shooting range, made the penalty loop very crowded from the first minutes; none of 115 men managed to shoot clean, moreover, only three athletes had just one penalty with two of them on the podium.
Starting his competition with a prone penalty, start number 56 Fratzscher was only 14th with a 41.2-second gap from Andersen, who shot clean. A perfect standing stage allowed the German, who was second in the last season’s IBU Cup Total Score, to take the lead and keep it until the finish line. With his rival hitting all targets, Andersen missed three times, but still held the podium spot due to his great track speed.
Lemmerer, who took his first podium at the final IBU Cup last season in the mass start 60 because of his great shooting, was also was very confident at the range today. With a single standing penalty, he left the stadium 5.5 seconds behind Fratzscher. On the final lap, he was slower than his rivals but crossed the finish line in second, adding one more podium to his record.
Despite not the best feeling before the competition and a light illness last week, today Fratzscher started a new season perfectly well.
🇩🇪L. Fratzscher, "The wind was crazy during the whole race, so I tried to focus only on the shooting. It worked well for me at the range, so that is the main reason of my victory today."— IBU Cup Biathlon (@IBU_CUP) November 28, 2019
📸: J.R.Bakkelund pic.twitter.com/18Up6EpZW2
In the women’s competition, second place went to Kelsey Joan Dickinson of the USA with two penalties, 6.6 seconds behind. Germany’s Maren Hammerschmidt finished third with four penalties, 7.6 seconds back.
Matching Hammerschmidt at the shooting range, Elisabeth Hoegberg of Sweden finished fourth less than 2 seconds behind the German. Russia’s Ekaterina Glazyrina was fifth with four misses, 31.6 seconds back, while Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine was sixth with the same shooting result, 44.2 seconds behind.
The conditions during the women’s sprint were even more challenging than during the men’s competition. Of the 89 athletes who left the starting gates, only three women had two penalties, while the others left three and more targets black. Starting with early bib 10, Erdal had one prone penalty, adding two more misses in standing. For the final lap, she left in the lead, just .1 seconds ahead of Dickinson, who missed twice in the standing stage. By the next split, the American overtook the Norwegian by .9 seconds but could not keep her advantage, crossing the line in second. Still, Dickinson very happy after taking her first IBU podium.
World Cup regular Hammerschmidt, who is starting her season at the IBU Cup, had two penalties in each stage, leaving the stadium 29.9 seconds behind the winner and only .1 seconds behind Hoegberg. On the last lap, it was a battle between the German and Swede who started just 30 seconds apart. It seemed like Hoegberg would keep third, but Hammerschmidt was faster in the final meters, overtaking the Swede by 1.8 seconds.
After the finish, Erdal admitted that the conditions were really challenging today but she tried to concentrate on her competition and managed to show a good result. “It's pretty great to win here, in the place where I've been training a lot. It is also amazing to start a season with a first senior win and I'm looking forward to the rest of it!"
Photos: Knut Erik Landgraff