Julia Simon’s Last Standing Stage Secures Oberhof Mass Start Win
Julia Simon of France came to the last standing stage of the Oberhof women’s 12.5 km mass start this afternoon in 13th position. After shooting clean, she left in first place, briefly fell to second until surging past Germany’s Franziska Preuss with 500 meters to go, claiming the win, with three penalties in 40:11.1. Preuss with two penalties finished second, 3.9 seconds back. Hanna Oeberg, with three penalties sped past Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold in the final 100 meters to take third place, 11.7 seconds back.
“I don’t remember anything”
Simon, who collapsed on the finish line in total exhaustion, was completely out of breath and energy tried to explain how she won. “I can’t explain. I do not remember anything. I tried to do my best in the last standing. After that, I was on the track and they said, ‘It’s a win.’ Franzi was ahead of me then and I just tried to push as fast as I can; just push, push, push. I am so exhausted, I cannot say anything, I don’t remember anything; I just tried to do my best.”
Later she added, “It was a really good day. I tried to stay focused on my last shooting and it paid off. In the last loop, I did not understand that I was in the lead until the coach said I had to fight. It was crazy…a crazy finish. I am very proud of this race; it was one of my best. I did everything, it was just amazing.”
Tandrevold, with two penalties, finished fourth, 13 seconds back. Oeberg’s teammate Mona Brorsson, with one penalty finished fifth, 14.9 seconds back while Italy’s Dorothea Wierer, with two penalties finished sixth,. 28.8 seconds back.
Wierer in Front
The light snow and chilly temperatures that the men had earlier remained for the women, with shooting range flags just fluttering, a good set-up for the final competition of the week. Hanna, Elvira Oeberg and Denise Herrmann controlled the early pace, leading the pack into the first prone stage. Yet, Wierer was the fastest to clean, taking the lead with Julia Simon and Tiril Eckhoff on her shoulder and ten women following, all perfect in the next 12 seconds.
The leading trio dictated the pace over the next 2.5 km into the second prone stage until Davidova moved to the head of the pack just before the shooting range. Wierer was again fast and clean, while Karolin Knotten matched her to go out second, while Hanna, after a first-stage penalty jumped to third with five perfect shots. Marketa Davidova, Tandrevold and Tuuli Tomingas, all shooting clean, rounded out the leading group.
Davidova again moved to the front to became the pace setter. Wierer and Oeberg went shot-for-shot until Oeberg missed her last one while Wierer hit hers. The Italian, the only woman in the lead group to avoid the penalty loop left the stadium with a 23.5 second lead over Oeberg with a single penalty. Davidova, Lisa Theresa Hauser, Svetlana Mironova and Preuss followed in a tight bunch, 34 seconds back.
Simon Cleans, Takes Lead
Wierer skied the next loop with not a rival in sight, pushing her margin out to nearly 30 seconds by the final standing stage. The Italian missed her third and last shots while Simon, 47 seconds back before shooting and Preuss, 42 seconds back cleaned to get ahead of Wierer, Lisa Theresa Hauser, Brorsson and Tandrevold by less than nine seconds going into the last loop.
Last Loop Battles for Podium
The final composition of the podium took shape over the last 2.5 km loop. Preuss immediately jumped into the lead as they left the stadium, putting 10, then 20 meters between her and Simon. Hauser crashed to fall out of contention. With Wierer fading, Oeberg, Brorsson and Tandrevold went after the third podium spot. Simon pounced on the uphill before the 12 km mark, taking a slight lead over Preuss. Tandrevold did the same with Oeberg on her shoulder. Simon pushed the downhill to the finish line for the victory, collapsing at the line. Just as they crested the final hill before the finish, Oeberg passed Tandrevold outsprinting her in the final 100 meters for third place.
“Pushed as hard as possible”
Preuss, with her best result of the season explained her last loop strategy. “First half of the loop, I tried to give everything because I was a little bit afraid of the girls behind us.
I did not want to sprint at the finish line so I pushed as hard as possible the first half, but then the energy was very low. Julia came back at the uphill to the stadium and she caught me. I thought ‘it is so hard and I can’t go with her,’ but I was so happy to be second. It was a great weekend especially yesterday with the relay win.”
Oeberg was pretty upbeat with her third place. “I would have thought before the race that three mistakes would be too much. It was a really exciting race; a lot of things happened throughout the whole race…I think my consistency is good and I have done some good results. I have been struggling a bit on this tough course, but I think today was my best day on the course.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni