Wire-to-Wire Nove Mesto Pursuit Victory for Tiril Eckhoff
Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff, despite three penalties went unchallenged to win this afternoon’s women’s 10 km pursuit at the Nove Mesto na Moravě BMW IBU Cup in 27:28 for her tenth win of the season. Germany’s Denise Herrmann, with one penalty finished second, 24 seconds back. Eckhoff’s teammate Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, also with three penalties finished third, 29.9 seconds back.
Taking a Chance
Eckhoff holding a huge lead coming into the last standing stage, decided to take a chance and seal the win with five fast clean shots. “In the last shooting, I was thinking I was just going to shoot fast and clean. Then suddenly it was two mistakes. I was a little lazy on that last standing. Except that, everything was very good.”
Exceptional in Pursuits
She has been exceptionally consistent in pursuits this season, winning five times. “I guess it suits me well. I think it is a little bit nice to start first, but today I am very happy with my shooting and that is good.”
Sweden’s Linn Persson, with one penalty finished fourth, 30.9 seconds back. Germany’s Franziska Preuss and Ukrainian Yulia Dzhima, both with two penalties finished fifth and sixth, 35.8 and 39.8 seconds back, respectively.
Blue Sky Day; Eckhoff in Control
There was not a cloud in sight for the midday pursuit start, nothing but blue skies, with a +2C temperature and again tricky winds on the range that would make perfect shooting a challenge. Sprint winner Eckhoff pushed the pace right from the start, adding a few seconds to her lead before the first prone stage. Five fast shots and she was gone with a 21 second lead over Alimbekava and teammates Olsbu Roeiseland and Tandrevold.
Chase Group Closes Gap
The chase group led by Olsbu Roeiseland regained a third of the deficit by the 3.9 km mark, as they approached the second prone stage. Eckhoff was again fast clean and gone before anyone else fired a shot. Olsbu Roeiseland missed one shot but still got away in second position, just ahead of the clean-shooting Preuss, 43 seconds back, with Dzhima next but at 50 seconds.
Wind and Penalties
The Yellow/Red Bib added a half-dozen seconds to her commanding lead over the next 2 km loop. With the wind picking up, she shot carefully but missed the third shot for her first penalty loop of the day. It made little difference as both of her rivals also missed a shot, leaving Preuss in second at 56 seconds back and Olsbu Roeiseland another four seconds farther, with Herrmann after just one penalty in fifteen shots on the Norwegian’s shoulder in fourth.
Herrmann Moves Up
Eckhoff shot fast in the last standing stage, missing two shots, but it mattered little, as she left the penalty loop before anyone else was on the range. Both Preuss and Olsbu Roeiseland had penalties, opening the door for Herrmann who went 5-for-5 to move into second, but 33 seconds back. Dzhima matched the German to leave in third, 50 seconds behind Eckhoff.
Less Pressure; Good Shooting
Herrmann attributed her good shooting to less pressure. “After the World Champs, I am coming to the shooting range a little more relaxed. At the beginning of the season, I was a bit more nervous and sometimes had too much stress in the range. I put a lot of pressure on myself. It worked not so well; now it is coming better and better. I am really happy to have this race today.”
The last loop was all Eckhoff as she cruised to her tenth victory of the season and third sprint/pursuit double. Behind her, the Ukrainian faded as Olsbu Roeiseland put on her patented last loop flourish to grab third place, just a step ahead of Persson.
Appreciating the Podium
Olsbu Roeiseland’s third place was her first podium since she placed second in the Oberhof pursuit on January 9. She admitted, “My shape has been good this year, but the shooting has not been good enough to fight for the podium, especially in the World Championships…I had a lot of almost races, a lot of 4-7 places, so I am so glad to be back on the podium. It has been a long time ago and then you appreciate it more.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni