Uliana Kaisheva and Fabien Claude Win IBU Cup Pursuits
Uliana Kaisheva of Russia missed once on her way to a win in the women’s pursuit at IBU Cup 6 in Lenzerheide, finishing in 32:45.5. Later in the day, Fabien Claude of France doubled up, after his sprint win taking men’s pursuit with two penalties in 35:30.6.
Behind Kaisheva, her teammate Victoria Slivko finished second with two penalties, 32.6 seconds back, while another Russian Valeriia Vasnetcova matched Slivko at the shooting range and finished third, 56.2 seconds behind.
Russia’s Elizaveta Kaplina moved from 9th at start to 4th at finish with one penalty, 1:12.4 back. Sprint Bronze medalist Janina Hettich of Germany missed three times and became fifth, 1:21.4 behind. France’s Chloe Chevalier matched her bib 6 at the finish with 3 penalties, 1:28.6 back.
Another beautiful day filed with spectacular views greeted everyone at the Lenzerheide stadium for the first competition of the day, the women’s pursuit. Leaving the starting gate with bib 1, Slivko was perfect at the first prone, leaving 41 seconds ahead of her closest rivals Hettich and Kaisheva. The second prone stage saw Slivko collecting two penalties, dropping to fourth place. Kaisheva, despite one miss, left in first; she was followed by clean-shooting Hettich in 1.7 seconds and bib 5 Vasnetcova in 16.2 seconds behind.
At the first standing, Kaisheva was perfect again; she left with a 20.6-second gap from Slivko, who due to a clean shooting moved to the second; Vasnetcova, with a penalty loop, was 32.3 behind. Coming to the final standing with a confident lead, Kaisheva easily closed all targets, leaving the rivals to battle for the second and third places. Slivko shot clean, while Vasnetcova collected one more penalty. They finished in the same order, making the podium completely Russian.
U.Kaisheva, "During these two competitions I felt really hard; probably for a few seasons, I haven't felt that hard. Today I was trying to be careful and keep some powers for the final lap and the miss on the prone was just my mistake."— IBU Cup Biathlon (@IBU_CUP) January 26, 2019
Second place in the men’s pursuit went to Philipp Horn of Germany with two penalties, 12.2 seconds back. Russia’s Anton Babikov finished third with the same shooting result as Horn, 16.2 seconds behind.
Horn’s teammate Lucas Fratzscher became fifth with two penalties, 54.5 seconds back. Russia’s Alexey Slepov, the fastest skier of the day, despite four misses and start number 7, finished fifth, 1:06.3 behind. Sprint Bronze medalist Johannes Dale of Norway also had four penalties but became sixth, 1:19.1 back.
In the Lead
Starting the competition with bib 1, Claude stayed in the lead until the finish line. At the first prone stage, the French shot clean, collecting one penalty in the second prone, nevertheless leaving in the lead. Fratzscher was perfect on both stages, moving from the 5th start position to second place, while start number 3 Serafin Wiestner of Switzerland was third.
After the first standing, where Claude cleaned and his rivals were making mistakes, the French biathlete increased his lead up to 33.6 seconds from second-placed Fratzscher. Wiestner, Babikov, and Horn were following a few seconds later. Coming to the final shooting with a confident advantage, Claude missed once, leaving the penalty loop when his rivals just started shooting.
🇫🇷@fabien_claude1 , "I am very happy to take the second win in a row. Today I didn't feel that good on the track, so I wanted to "build" my race at the shooting range and glad that I had only two mistakes!"— IBU Cup Biathlon (@IBU_CUP) January 26, 2019
Behind Claude, Horn and Babikov were the only two to clean; they battled for the last podium spots. Leaving less than a second apart, the Russian could not overcome the German and they finished in the same order.
Importance of the IBU Cups
The top six athletes, in both competitions, were given their awards by a special guest, IBU President Olle Dahlin, who attended the competitons. Dahlin stressed the importance of the IBU Cups to the International Biathlon Union. “IBU Cups are very important for us because the future stars of the World Cup and World Championships are raised and compete here. I was also interested in seeing the Lenzerheide venue, which will host the YJWCH next year. I heard a lot of good things about the stadium and now, after seeing it, I have a very good impression of the venue and the work that has been done.”
Photos: IBU/Vianney Thibaut