Second Career Win for Justine Braisaz in Women’s 15 km Individual
Justine Braisaz of France, after picking up two first stage penalties closed the next 15 targets to claim her second career World cup win this evening, taking the Oestersund women’s 15km individual in 42:35.1. Ukraine’s Yulia Dzhima, the only woman in the field to shoot clean finished second, 11.1 seconds back. Third place went Braisaz’ teammate Julia Simon, also with two penalties, 17.7 seconds back.
Braisaz’s second career win came after a disappointing 83rd with six penalties in the women’s sprint on Sunday. She commented, “I decided to take lots pleasure today because was awful four days ago with six mistakes, and thought about stopping my career…I knew I had good legs today; I knew it on the first loop. I did not panic after the prone shooting. I said ‘Justine, keep focused; take pleasure like you did before.’ It was so nice to race with Julia; she kept my mind focused. I knew she shot well. It was fun to race with that kind of mind.”
Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold of Norway with one penalty finished fourth, 25.2 seconds back. Larisa Kuklina of Russia with two penalties, finished with a personal best in fifth place, 38.8 seconds back. Lena Haecki of Switzerland, with three penalties, finished sixth, 1:05.7 back.
Above Freezing; First Prone Stage
The men had to deal with soft snow after rainfall, Mother Nature added a bit of wet snow just before the competition and plus 4C temperature, but the tracks stayed solid and the wind remained throughout the competition.
Kaisa Makarainen of Finland set the bar in the first prone stage with a solid 5-for-5 to grab the early lead, with the hometown favorite Hanna Oeberg 6 seconds back. Wierer, not shooting very confidently, fell off the pace immediately with two penalties. Lisa Vittozzi was just the opposite, cleaning with ease to move just 5 seconds from the top spot. Also cleaning and in contention was fast-shooting Julia Simon who jumped ahead of Oeberg into third position.
Haecki, Tandrevold and Simon
The Finnish/Swedish rivalry continued in the first standing stage with both Oeberg and Makarainen missing a shot, but maintaining the top two spots initially. However Haecki and Tandrevold after cleaning the first prone stage, repeated in standing. That was enough to put them in the top two spots at the halfway point. A few minutes later, Simon matched and jumped between them.
By the second prone, Wierer had skied her way back into contention. Makarainen fell back while Oeberg missed one, moving to first position briefly until Haecki and Tandrevold both upped their total to 15-for-15, taking over the top two spots. Simon equaled them and split the pair; she was just 7 seconds behind Haecki. After two first prone penalties, Braisaz, skiing powerfully cleaned her second stage in a row to move into fifth.
Braisaz and Dzhima
The second standing stage settled the podium. The Yellow Bib cleaned her second consecutive stage, but it was too little too late. Tandrevold shot very cautiously in the wind, missing once while Haecki fell off to third with three penalties. The Norwegian had 42 seconds over Wierer. However Simon had something to say; despite two penalties, moving into the second spot, just 3.5 seconds back. That is, until her teammate Braisaz cleaned again to gain a 16.5 second gap on the field.
With everyone focused on the Norwegian and the two French teammates, the lady who won last year’s season-opening women’s 15 km individual, Yulia Dzhima was fashioning her own big day. Starting with number 74, the Ukrainian cleaned every stage to take a small lead after the last standing.
Braisaz Skis to Victory
Tandrevold continued to build on her lead with Haecki chasing. They moved up to 1-2. The French teammates changed everything. Braisaz continued her fast skiing to easily take first place. Late started Dzhima struggled in the last loop, slowing but battling to finish second, leaving Simon in third and knocking Tandrevold form the podium.
Fan of Individual
Braisaz admitted that she is a fan of the individual. “I quite love it. It is something you can take quite easily; you have time to ski as you want. You can keep your mind focused…It is a very long race; very long.”
Challenging for Dzhima
Regarding her clean shooting, Dzhima said, “I am not sure how I did this. I am really happy about this result that I could shoot 20 out of 20, especially in these windy conditions. It is really challenging here but now I am happy.” She added, “I knew I was in first when I left the shooting range. I heard from the coaches about the 6 second gap. But I lost some time on the track because I am not in my best form yet and the tracks were very hard at this time.”
Photos: IBU/Petr Slavik