Eckhoff: “tired” and “lucky”
Eckhoff felt tired today and found the going tough all alone in the lead. “It is very nice to be back on top. I really wanted to win today, so I am very happy. (The last shooting) was really bad. I was tired today so it was hard going alone out there in the tracks. I had not the best focus on the last shots. That was a little bit clumsy; I was lucky today.”
Eckhoff’s teammates Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Karoline Offigstad Knotten, with three and one penalties, finished fourth and fifth, 35.8 and 43.5 seconds back, respectively. France’s Anais Chevalier-Bouchet, with three penalties, finished sixth, 54.3 seconds back.
Olsbu Roeiseland with her fourth place secured the World Cup Pursuit Score Crystal Globe, her first seasonal title in this discipline.
Another clear sunny day with the temperature just at freezing for the women’s pursuit. Herrmann led the pack into the first prone stage. With the wind flags flapping easily, the German missed once while Eckhoff shooting very carefully cleaned to take the lead. Despite the penalty, Herrmann left the loop in second 22 seconds back and Nilsson also with a penalty a couple of seconds back, Clean-shooting Voigt and Persson followed over 30 seconds back.
Eckhoff’s lead held through the next 2 km loop; she skied easily with Herrmann and Nilsson just gaining a couple seconds by the second prone stage. This time Eckhoff shot more confidently picking up the cadence with each shot until she cleaned and was gone. Herrmann shot a bit faster also cleaning, while Nilsson missed one shot, dropping to fifth with Chevalier-Bouchet after a first stage penalty cleaned, going into third. Voigt remained perfect in fourth, 40+ seconds back.
The leader again did not push the pace coming into the first standing, deciding to just ski steadily and save some energy. Herrmann again closed down a few seconds, with Chevalier-Bouchet three seconds back. The Norwegian shot very aggressively this time, going to 15-for-15. Her French rival matched going out second after Herrmann picked up a penalty, dropping 44 seconds back. Wierer after three clean stages moved into fourth, 55 seconds back, going out a step ahead of the also perfect Voigt.
While Eckhoff skied at her own pace, Herrmann passed Chevalier-Bouchet on the Wall, with Wierer and Voigt closing in. The Norwegian skied into the range with a 40+ second lead, but missed her first and last shots. Herrmann shot fast, missing her last shot. Wierer cleaned once again going out in second, 14 seconds back, with the German 22 seconds back. Knotten moved up to fourth, but was 45 seconds back with Olsbu Roeiseland next another three seconds back.
The last loop was a mere formality, with Eckhoff skiing comfortably to her first win of the season, followed by Wierer and Herrmann. The Norwegian crossed the finish line joyously with a big smile and ski poles raised in victory.
Wierer, “did not think podium was possible”
The Italian, one of the few to shoot clean had to reset after two penalties in yesterday’s sprint. “I was just focusing; to shoot really focused and to shoot not too fast. Yesterday I was a little unlucky because coming on the shooting range, there was a lot of wind and during the shooting it went away. Today, it was some good conditions but I did not think it was possible to go on the podium with number seventeen because there were so many strong girls in front of me. But I am really happy.” As for worrying about the speedy Herrmann in the last loop, “Denise is like a sprinter so I was really afraid she would come and sprint the finish line!”
Herrmann with her second consecutive performance stayed focused on her wone performance. “I tried to make my own competition today. I knew two strong girls were behind me. I tried to have a good opening and make my own race. When I had a mistake, I saw the other girls had mistakes. I felt really good in the track and tried to focus every target. In the last standing in the last target, I was a bit too fast on the trigger. We had a good fight in the final loop. I am really satisfied with my weekend here.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni