Marte Olsbu Røiseland strikes IBU WCH Sprint Gold
Norway’s Marte Olsbu Røiseland, despite one standing penalty, skied her way to victory this afternoon, taking the women’s sprint Gold medal at IBU World Championships Women’s Sprint Gold medal in 21:13.1. The Norwegian’s medal was her first-ever individual IBU WCH medal. Susan Dunklee of USA, one of only four women to shot clean today won the Silver medal, 6.8 seconds back. Lucie Charvátová of Czech Republic, with one penalty had her first-ever individual podium and first-ever IBU WCH medal picking up the the Bronze medal, 21.3 seconds back.
“My Main Goal”
An emotional Olsbu Røiseland fulfilled a dream with her win. “I do not know what to feel. This is a dream that I had for a really long time now. This was my main goal this season, Antholz. I had said it out loud many times; I did not race in Annecy because of the World Championships. A lot of Norwegian people thought that was really stupid not to race there. I gave up the Yellow Bib for it but I knew it was right. To get the Gold today means a lot to me!”
“Super Happy with Nine Hits”
She admitted the win was hard fought, with the windy conditions. “It was first of all tough conditions on skis, because it was a bit icy. It was a bit difficult in the stadium on the range. The wind was blowing to the left then to the right; It was tough to read the wind today. Not so much wind but it changed a lot. It was difficult but I just tried to focus on myself and I am super happy with the nine hits today."
Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine, also with one penalty finished fourth, 25.6 seconds back. Germany’s Denise Herrmann, with three penalties finished fifth, 30.5 seconds back. Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi, with two penalties finished sixth, 37.6 seconds back.
Breezy Day; Clean Shooting Elusive
The 102 starters in the women’s sprint were treated to another day of good competition conditions, with mostly sunny skies, +3C on the thermometer. However a moderate to strong breeze cut back and forth across the shooting range, making clean shooting an elusive prize. Number 1 Monika Hojnisz-Starega started the day with a clean prone stage to take the very early top spot. Yellow Bib Eckhoff came to the range the fastest but missed two shots and four more in standing putting her far from the podium. Olsbu Røiseland cleaned with ease to move into 4th. Paulina Fialkova jumped into the lead with her own five quick perfect shots to grab an 8 second lead on the field. Dunklee shot slowly but clean to move into the top three. Vittozzi and Herrmann both had two penalties, putting them at a disadvantage, but in contention.
Olsbu Røiseland despite a single standing penalty took control, and headed into the last loop with the lead Fialkova’s podium hopes ended with two standing penalties. Vittozzi after the two prone penalties, cleaned standing to jump to fourth position, 27seconds back. Dunklee came to standing and did something she does infrequently; shoot clean, leaving 12.9 seconds ahead of the Norwegian. Herrmann flew around the second loop, moving up to 17th before standing. She again went for a tour of the penalty loop, but came out in 8th, 44 seconds back. 2019 IBU SBWCH Gold medalist Charvátová after a prone penalty came to standing in 14th position. She then cleaned quickly, leaving in second, 11 seconds behind Dunklee.
Victory for Olsbu Røiseland
Olsbu Røiseland pushed around the last 2.5 km, adding to her lead at each split until she finished with her first individual IBU World Championship title. Dunklee tried to maintain the top spot but fighting hard still lost time on the last loop, gritting her teeth as her head bobbed side-to-side with every other stride until crossing just 6.8 seconds behind Olsbu Røiseland. Charvátová, an ex-cross-country skier like Herrmann was battling for the podium in the whole last loop, with Pidhrushna closing fast. However, the Czech athlete prevailed by four seconds to win her first-ever IBU WCH medal.
At the Limit
Dunklee admitted she was at her limit in the last loop. “I was getting splits the whole last loop. I knew I had a bit of a cushion of time going into it. I lost a lot in the last kilometer, but I gave it everything I had and that’s all I can do. It was a good battle."
Hoped for a Medal
Charvátová who said after her IBU SBWCH Sprint Gold medal last August that she hoped it would translate into good results on snow got her wish today, despite like Dunklee a tough last loop. “I tried to do my maximum on the last loop. I was very exhausted at the finish line. I just lay down; it was enough for me…I hoped I would get a medal… I had no expectations for these championships because I struggle a bit with the higher altitude… I am better this season than I used to be, but there were a lot of ups and downs. It is an amazing feeling for me… I do not know what more to say about it.”
Wierer Back in Yellow
Dorothea Wierer, after taking home a Mixed Relay Silver medal had two penalties today, putting her in 7th place, 39 seconds back. However, there was a silver lining for the Italian who admitted, “I did not feel so good on the track. I was not able to stand on my skis.” She moved back into the Yellow Bib, ahead of Eckhoff, who finished 59th. Wierer said, “I think it is really nice that I can start in Yellow in front of my home crowd.”
Photos: IBU/Petr Slavik Christian Manzoni