Eckhoff, “Incredible…too much emotions”
Eckhoff, filled with emotion and still holding the Norwegian flag admitted the finish was more than special. “It was like a dream come true. To be here with my home crowd, I was trying to make it sink in. It was incredible; too much emotions to say. It was so cool to be there with Marte as well. It has been three years since I have been here. It means so much to do well here in my home crowd. It is a big win this year to do it so good in the finals.” “I am going to be number two”
She added, regarding her fast last standing stage that sealed the win, “I saw Marte and was thinking she is going to hit all the targets and I am going to be number two. Then she missed one target; I know the focus is really bad and this is my opportunity. I just tried to as fast as I can and tried to hit those targets.”
“Achieve what you train for”
As for her success this weekend after some very down times at the beginning of the season, “The best is to achieve what you train for.” That sums up the Tiril Eckhoff who was on the tracks today.
Anais Chevalier-Bouchet of France, with one penalty finished fourth, 59 seconds back. Germany’s Denise Herrmann, with two penalties, finished fifth, 1:05.2 back. Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser, with three penalties finished sixth, 1:11 back.
Olsbu Roeiseland’s second place gave her the long-sought Women’s World Cup Total Score title with 909 points with one competition remaining, 126 points ahead of Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg. Her 380 points in the World Cup Pursuit Score standings gave the Norwegian her second small Crystal Globe of her career to go with the Sprint Score Globe from yesterday and now the big Crystal Globe for the Total Score title.
Focused, forward looking
Winning the World Cup Total Score is according to Olsbu Roeiseland is “a lot of hard races through a long season. It has been tough, not so tough before the Olympics, I was focused on the Olympics…I was happy with the Olympics and all the medals. After that, it has been a little tough for me to stay focused and have some energy left…now it is getting better and better. Yesterday was a good race and today was even better…I was not as good as a young athlete. Actually, I was not that good at all. I worked my way up. I have trained, stayed focused and just looking forward, not backwards…Just focused on myself and what I can do. I think that is what brought me here today and I can have this Yellow Bib.”
Sweden was awarded the Women’s World Cup Relay Score that they claimed two weeks ago with second place in the Kontiolahti women’s 4 X 6 km relay.
The final women’s pursuit of the season was blessed with great conditions: +8C, blue skies, big crowds, but the warm sunshine and temperatures left the snow soft and the tracks slow and deep in places. On the plus side, the shooting range, bathed in sunlight had very little wind to contend with. Accordingly, Eckhoff, leading into the first prone, shot carefully and clean as did her teammate Olsbu Roeiseland, separated by just 2.5 seconds. The also clean Chevalier-Bouchet was 44 seconds back, just ahead of Davidova with one missed target.
The Norwegian duo worked together well in front of the field coming into the second prone stage. The sprint winner missed her second shot, while the Yellow/Red Bib cleaned, moving into the lead, by 19.8 seconds with Chevalier-Bouchet going to 10-for-10 in third position. Fialkova moved into fourth after Davidova picked up two penalties, but the Slovak was 1:12 back, skiing just ahead of Hauser.
The World Cup Total Score and Pursuit Score leader came to the first standing all alone. She missed a shot as did Eckhoff, so nothing changed at the top. Their French rival cleaned, closing the gap to 34 seconds back; Fialkova matched, going to a minute back in fourth, with Hauser and the 15-for-15 Hildebrand next but another 26 seconds in arears.
Again, solo into the last standing, Olsbu Roeiseland seemed to press a bit and missed a shot with Eckhoff not that far back. Eckhoff responded with a very confident steady stage, of five closed targets. As she turned from the range, a smile crossed her face, heading into the last loop with her teammate 9 seconds back. Fialkova went to 20-for-20, while Chevalier-Bouchet picked up a single penalty, falling to fourth position, but just .7 seconds behind Fialkova.
Eckhoff skied the last loop almost joyously, bounding up the hill behind the range, stopping at the top to take a Norwegian flag from a fan. Then at the tunnel bump, she waved to fans before as she topped it and skied to the finish, bowing to the fans as she completed her Holmenkollen sprint/pursuit double. Olsbu Roeiseland faded in the last loo, but held second while Fialkova finished third.
Fialkova after such a long time sans podiums, admitted, “I always tried but it was never like today. Everything was perfect. I felt good on the tracks and of course I made four times zero. It is always special if you shoot four times zero and today it was good enough for third place…I am the person who never gives up.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni