Veronika Vitkova and Valeriia Vasnetcova Take IBU SBWCH Pursuit Titles
Czech fan favorite Veronika Vitkova won the Gold medal in the women’s pursuit at the IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships in Nove Mesto this afternoon with two penalties in 31:25.8. In the junior women's pursuit earlier in the day, Valeriia Vasnetcova of Russia claimed the victory with four penalties in 33:54.
Second place and the Silver medal in the senior pursuit went to yesterday’s winner Paulina Fialkova of Slovakia with four penalties, 21.8 seconds back. The sprint Bronze medalist Galina Vishnevskaya of Kazakhstan matched her result by finishing third with two penalties, 27.7 seconds behind.
Fourth place went to bib 2 Monika Hojnisz of Poland with five penalties, 43seconds back, while two Ukrainians Anastasiya Merkushyna with four penalties and Olena Pidhrushna with three penalties finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Fully Packed Stadium
The first prone stage saw bib 1 Fialkova going for two penalty loops while clean-shooting Vitkova and Vishnevskaya left in the leading positions 2.5 seconds apart. In the second prone, the Kazakh athlete shot accurately, while Vitkova missed once; Fialkova followed them 24.6 seconds later.
In the first standing, the home-crowd favorite Vitkova, supported by the fully packed stadium of 9000 spectators, hit all her targets, taking the lead which she did not relinquish, despite one penalty in the final standing stage. Hojnisz, who was second after the first standing, added two more misses and with a total of five penalties dropped to fourth. Fialkova and Vishnevskaya took advantage of Hojnisz's misfortune and after single penalties left for the final lap in second and third, which they maintained until the finish line.
The happy Vitkova admitted, “It was hard because being at home, with so many people here, it’s a big pressure. But after yesterday’s 4th place, I wanted a medal and now I am here! At the last shooting, I was very nervous, after four shots, my legs were shaking, but I managed to win and this is a great feeling.”
Junior Women’s Pursuit
The Silver medal in the junior’s competition went to Poland’s sprint winner Kamila Zuk with eight penalties, 8.8 seconds behind, while Marketa Davidova, who led up to the final standing stage, came in third, claiming the Bronze medal 45.4 seconds back.
Comfortable Lead Lost
Zuk, who started the pursuit 41 seconds ahead of Davidova and 1:06 in front of Vasnetcova, lost her comfortable lead at the first prone stage where she four targets open, while Davidova only missed once to take the lead. Davidova distanced her chasers even further with a clean second prone, while Zuk and Vasnetcova missed one each. In the first standing stage, Vasnetcova narrowed the gap to the Czech leader to only 10.9 seconds with hitting all targets, while Davidova went for one penalty loop.
The three contenders came to the final standing stage within 16 seconds. Vasnetcova took the lead with two penalties and left the stadium 17.6 seconds ahead of Zuk and 33 seconds ahead of Davidova, who missed three times. The Russian fought hard on the last lap and secured the Gold medal.
Sticker Got Stuck in Rollerski
Vasnetcova admitted that despite the third competition in a row, she felt good on the track, but had some problems with shooting. “I think that my last two misses on the final standing is only a psychology. I saw that Marketa, who was standing next to me, made mistakes, so I decided to take a risk but it did not work out.” She also added, “On the first penalty lap, the thigh sticker got stuck in my rollerski, which greatly slowed me down on the downhills.”
Photos: Petr Slavik