Herrmann-Wick described winning a World Championship at home in Germany with her family there as, “Unbelievable; to be at home here and have zero-zero in the sprint with this crowd at a home World Championships and to have a Gold medal…I have not words for this. It is pure happiness!”
“Everything is possible”
The 2022 Olympic 15 km Individual Gold medalist admitted it was hard to stay calm, but at the same time she enjoyed every moment. “There was a balance between staying focused and enjoying the atmosphere. I had a really hard heartbeat the first time today on Birxsteig and in the mixed relay; I knew I was in good shape. I knew everything is possible. My sleep was not so calm last night, but I tried to stay focused and be in a relaxing mode. The good music in the stadium and the spectators; it is so crazy; my family is around here. I tried to enjoy it, but I was also really nervous.”
The Gold medalist later added that her win was very special and not as easy as it seemed but the result of putting all the pieces together at the right time. “Every time it looks easier, It is much harder. I tried to be prepared for this event but you do not know. It is a first time home World Champs for me and the whole team…You have to have the tunnel and the focus for your competition. It was a good mix for me today and it was working really well…It was a magic moment; winning at home is the best feeling.”
Norway’s Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, with one penalty finished fourth, 31.3 seconds back. Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi, also with one penalty finished fifth, 45.8 seconds back. Marketa Davidova of Czech Republic shot clean in sixth place, 50.5 seconds back.
Overcast skies returned today after sunny day on Thursday, keeping the temperature just below freezing with usual winds cutting across the range, making shooting a challenge. Yellow Bib Julia Simon was among the many who cleaned the prone stage, leaving with the second best time. Vittozzi came to the range with the lead on the tracks, cleaned fast, and moved into the top spot. Herrmann-Wick delighted the home crowd with an equally impressive clean stage, jumping .7 seconds ahead of the Italian. Her lead was short-lived. Hanna matched, going out of the stadium with a three-second lead.
Davidova, after a clean prone stage did the same in standing. Vittozzi blew through her standing targets missing one yet was just 2.3 seconds back. However, Herrmann-Wick shooting better than ever went to 10-for-10 taking a commanding 25-second lead. Hanna shot confidently and clean two minutes later leaving for the last loop nine seconds up on the local favorite.
She knew a big result was possible. “I knew when I came into standing that I was in a position to do a great result. I fought for every shot and hit. When I stayed clean, I knew it would be a great race.”
Olsbu Roeiseland recovered from a prone penalty with a clean standing stage and jumped into third, but it nothing was settled. Starting mid-field, Persson cleaned prone as she usually does, but was almost ten seconds back. In standing, she did the same thing and suddenly was ahead of Olsbu Roeiseland by 3.5 seconds, taking over third.
Wearing the Red Bib, Herrmann-Wick was firing on all cylinders on the last loop, faster than any of her rivals. With 800 meters to go, she was three seconds ahead of Hanna. The Swedish star sprinted desperately to regain the lead but fell short; Herrmann-Wick had won the Gold medal.
Hanna, “I put everything out there”
Thinking about the last loop, Hanna said, “In the last loop, I got to hear the times compared to Denise and I knew it was really tight. I think I had a good plan, how to take on the course and not to go too hard on the long uphill in the beginning to have some power in the end. She (Denise) was a bit stronger than me in the end today, but I think I managed to put everything out there.”
Persson with a steady last loop held her lead over Olsbu-Roeiseland to take her first-ever individual IBU WCH medal.
“Hardest two and half kilometers of my life”
Despite previously winning Gold and Silver Olympic Relay medals, Persson assured everyone that she worked extremely hard for this Bronze IBU WCH medal. “It is my first individual medal. It is crazy, cool to be here. I am so satisfied; clean shooting. It was a hard fight in the last loop. I had to push so hard all the way. It was probably the hardest two and half kilometers in my life so far.” Sharing the podium with Hanna was special for a single reason. “It is so cool that both of us can be up here. It shows that we have a really strong team.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Björn Reichert