Marte Olsbu Røiseland’s Mass Start comeback brings Gold Medal Number Five
Norway’s Marte Olsbu Røiseland, known for her brilliantly fast last loops pulled off the biggest one of her career, hunting down Italy’s Dorothea Wierer to win the IBU World Championships Women’s Mass Start Gold medal. The Norwegian, in 22nd position over a minute back after two penalties in the prone stages, cleaned both standing stages to win her fifth Gold medal in 39:14. Wierer, with three penalties, won the Silver medal, 20.7 seconds back. Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg after two 4th and one fifth place in these Championships won the Bronze medal, with three penalties, 26.1 seconds back.
Seven Total Medals
Olsbu Røiseland who won a medal in every competition (5 Gold, 2 Bronze) in Antholz was incredulous after the finish. Filled with emotion, she said, “I am so happy, at the start of the competition I was so tired and I was falling behind (22nd). I said, ‘okay, be happy, you had a good Championships; just keep going.’ Then I started hitting in standing. Suddenly I was up there chasing the Gold. If anyone had told me that before the start I would not have believed them.”
Chase for the Gold
Regarding her spectacular last loop, she added, “I thought…wow you are fighting for a medal. I had to keep the other ones behind. Then the coaches told me, ‘you have to chase for the Gold; she is tired.’ I said, ‘Okay, I have to give it a chance. I am glad I did!
Monika Hojnisz-Starega of Poland finished fourth, with two penalties, 29.1 seconds back. France’s Julia Simon with two penalties finished fifth, 45.1 seconds back. Russia’s Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht on her 35th birthday finished sixth, with two penalties, 52 seconds back.
Wierer and Herrmann in the First Loop
The women lined up for their last competition under mostly cloudy skies, +1C and a very light breeze on the shooting range. Wierer and Denise Herrmann along with Olsbu Røiseland set the pace and led the pack of 30 women over the first 2.5 km loop. All three had a penalty loop in the first prone stage. Julia Simon and Katharina Innerhofer led a pack of 16 clean shooters that included Eckhoff, Mäkäräinen and Preuss all within 8 seconds out of the stadium.
Innerhofer in Front; Olsbu Røiseland 22nd
The Austrian shot on lane one in the second prone, cleaning for the second time and again leading the field as they headed to the first standing stage. Herrmann, Wierer both cleaned the stage to move up to 4th and 5th, just behind Hojnisz-Starega. Eckhoff picked up a penalty to fall 34 seconds back. After two stages, just eight women had to zeroes behind their names. Olsbu Røiseland after a second penalty fell to 22nd, 1:01 back.
Innerhofer, Wierer, Herrmann and Hojnisz-Starega separated themselves from the field before the first standing stage. Simon who came to the stadium in fifth position cleaned as did Oeberg; they went out 1-2. All of the leaders went to the penalty loop; Wierer and Hojnisz-Starega just had one loop so they stayed in contention, 20.8 and 28.4 seconds back respectively. Herrmann’s four penalties ended her medal quest. With a 5-for-5 stage, Olsbu Røiseland started her push, moving up to 9th position.
Wierer and Olsbu Røiseland
Simon stayed in front throughout the next 2.5 km, with Wierer and Oeberg shadowing her. Simon hit her first three shots but missed the last two; Wierer missed her last shot while Oeberg had two penalties. Wierer left the loop in front while Olsbu Røiseland after a clean stage completed her comeback jumping to second position 14 seconds back. A fight for the Bronze medal developed with Oeberg, Simon and Hojnisz-Starega together at 25 seconds back.
Olsbu Røiseland Dominates Last Loop
The Norwegian dominated the last loop, first closing the gap down to 6 seconds; the first place battle tightened with every stride. With 300 meters to go, Wierer and Olsbu Røiseland were together, but Wierer was spent. The Norwegian took the lead on the last downhill to the road bridge and was unchallenged from there to the finish. Olsbu Røiseland crossed with the win and Gold medal number five, collapsing into the snow. Wierer slowly crossed in the Silver medal spot, while Oeberg claimed the Bronze medal.
Oeberg Just Relaxed
Oeberg explained how she came mentally back to fight for the Bronze medal today. “The most important thing for me in coming back today was my teammates. They were there for me yesterday. My sister Elvira and boyfriend Jesper really stood up for me and made me think about other stuff yesterday night. I think that was very important to not think about today’s competition or medal or results, just relax.”
Photos: IBU/Petr Slavik