Matvey Eliseev and Elisabeth Hoegberg win IBU OECH Sprint Gold
Matvey Eliseev of Russia, with one penalty won the IBU Open European Championships Men’s Sprint Gold medal in 23:46.4, surging into the lead in the last 1600 meters, after falling behind Silver medalist Andrejs Rastorgujevs of Latvia.
In the late afternoon women’s 7.5 km sprint, Sweden’s Elisabeth Hoegberg had one prone penalty, but took the lead after cleaning standing to claim the Gold medal in22:39.6.
Eliseev commented on his success here (2nd, 4th and 5th last year at the IBU OECH). “Raubichi is close to Moscow so it feels a lot like home…It is always good to come to the European Championship and win a medal.”
Hoping for Top 10
Hoegberg was pleased to win, especially after her prone penalty. ‘I did not think this would be a win after the first miss. It does not feel so good on the tracks. I saw I was in first after the finish, but when I started so early, I did not know how far his would go. I knew the Russian was going late so I was hoping for a top 10 for a good position for the pursuit.”
Fine French Wine
On winning her first IBU OECH title at age 33, she added, “I have been feeling good the past few years so I d not feel that old. A coach told me recently that I was aging like a fine French wine!”
Rastorgujevs, like Eliseev with one penalty, won the Silver medal, 4.1 seconds back. Aleksander Fjeld Andersen of Norway also with one penalty won the Bronze medal, 25.5 seconds back.
Vytautas Strolia of Lithuania, with one penalty finished fourth, 26.3 seconds back. Sergey Bocharnikov of Belarus, with one penalty finished fifth, 27.5 seconds back, with Germany’s Roman Rees shooting clean in sixth place, 30.8 seconds back.
Sprint Day: Cloudy, Gusty, 2.5 km Loop
Sprint day at Raubichi dawned with overcast skies after a dusting of snow overnight; the clouds kept the temperature just at freezing, with the same steady and sometimes gusty wind on the shooting range as in the two previous competition days. With snow on the tracks limited, the men and women both used the 2.5 km loop for their sprint competitions, with the men going 2.5 km, shoot prone, then 2 X 2.5 km, shoot standing and 2.5 km to the finish.
The men’s sprint was pretty much a battle right from the start between two groups of consecutive starters: number 7 Strolia and number 8 Andersen matched against World Cup veterans number 38 Rastorgujevs and number 39 Eliseev. The earlier starters both cleaned prone, but slower than their later starting rivals, with Latvian also cleaning prone to garb the top spot, while his Russian rival tour a single tour of the penalty loop, falling 13 seconds back. Andersen and Strolia both had single standing penalties, bur left 1-2. Minutes later, Rastorgujevs shot very carefully, hit the first four targets and missed the last. As he headed to the penalty loop, Eliseev came to the range, with the wind gusting. He shot very confidently, cleaning.
Last Loop Sprint
The sprint for the victory was on, with both ahead of Andersen and Strolia. Rastorgujevs left the stadium 7.1 seconds back, but took control by 1.2 seconds the 8.4 km split. In the mostly downhill but with several turns last 1600 meters, the Russian closed. With Rastorgujevs still on the ground at the finish, Eliseev powered down the last 100 meters to take a 4-second victory. The Latvian admitted after the competition that he “felt like a rabbit, being chased by Matvey.” Andersen slowed a few seconds in the last loop, but finished .8 seconds ahead of the Lithuanian to take the Bronze medal.
Women’s Sprint to Hoegberg
Behind Hoegberg’s Gold medal effort, Norway’s clean-shooting Ida Lien won the Silver medal, 14.4 seconds back. Iryna Kryuko of Belarus, with one penalty won the Bronze medal15.9 seconds back.
Kristina Reztsova of Russia shot clean in fourth place, 20.2 seconds back. Aasne Skrede of Norway, with one penalty finished fifth, 29.5 seconds back. Anastasiya Merkushyna of Ukraine, also with one penalty finished sixth, 44.7 seconds back.
Special at Home
Kryuko’s medal was her third at the IBU OECH the last two seasons here in her home stadium. “It is always special to win a medal at home. A lot of fans and some classmates from school came to see me today, so that makes it even better.”
Clean Standing Stage Keys Victory
The women’s sprint was decided rather quickly, in the standing stage, where many of the early leaders missed one or two shots that took them out of podium contention. Valja Semerenko and local hero Dzinara Alimbekava had the fastest clean prone stages. No one else in the field of 103 women was faster. Yet, Hoegberg who won the sprint/pursuit double at the last IBU Cup in Martell was not in the top group today with a single prone penalty, 21 seconds behind the clean-shooting Lien and 25 behind the equally perfect Kryuko. By the standing stage, the Swedish veteran had clawed back 8 seconds on the field. This time, she cleaned easily, went out in the lead and was never seriously challenged.
Chance for Victory
Lien and Kryuko both later starters came to standing with a chance to take over the top spot. The Norwegian shot slowly and cleaned, but was 12 seconds back with 2.5 km to go. Kryuko fired off her five shots much quicker but ended up on the penalty loop, 17.4 seconds back. Lien’s lead over her rival was down to .1 seconds at the 5.9 km split. However, she pulled back a few meters in the closing kilometer to stay in second, with the Belarusian taking the last medal.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni