German Olympic Gold medalist Denise Herrmann-Wick, after shooting clean put on the afterburners in the last loop of this afternoon’s Hochfilzen women’s 7.5 km sprint for her first victory of the new season, crossing the line in 20:07.1. Marketa Davidova of Czech Republic, with one penalty finished second, 18.1 seconds back for her first podium this season. France’s Julia Simon with one penalty finished in third place, 20.1 seconds back.
Hermann-Wick, “Super satisfied and proud”
Herrmann-Wick, previously never on the podium in Hochfilzen was extremely proud of her victory, admitting it was not her favorite venue before this. “It was really surprising for me because I had a lot of struggles in the past years, but it paid off now with experience. It feels like the Olympic dream in Beijing, because Hochfilzen was not one of my most favorite places. Today I tried to do a good race overall to be calm on the skis and not too fast on the range. The range seems easy but it is not that easy. The last years, I pushed too hard. Today it was really hard on the tracks, icy and slippery. I was a bit afraid of the conditions before, so I tried to stay calm and do a good biathlon race. With this victory, I am super satisfied and proud.”
“Road to our home World Championships”
The winner later added that she only hopes to improve in the weeks ahead. “Today was a really good race. But I hope to come to better skiing shape in the direction of Oberhof in February and get better from weekend to weekend. With the victory, the confidence is growing up. I am looking forward, but every race is a new race on the road to our home World Championships.”
Fourth place went to Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg with one penalty, 32.4 seconds back, while her sister Hanna, with two penalties finished sixth, 37.2 seconds back.
Lampič’s Fifth Place Debut
Slovenia’s Anamarija Lampič in her debut BMW IBU World Cup competition finished fifth, with three penalties, 35.8 seconds back. The Slovenian former cross-country crystal globe winner made an impressive biathlon start last week at the Idre IBU Cup where she finished sixth in her first-ever international biathlon competition. Lampič was ecstatic with today’s result. “I cannot explain it. It is crazy. I just want to enjoy and have fun and it was fun! (After prone) I was like, ‘Whoa! I must really go full in. I missed in standing three times but it could also be five so I am happy with this. In standing, I am sure Ricco (Gross) was angry because he always says, ‘one more breath.’ When I missed three, I just said, ‘focus and shoot the last two.’ I shot the last two, just ran the three penalty loops and went into the finish.”
Sunny, Icy Hochfilzen
After a week in Finland’s darkness, Hochfilzen’s first day was brilliantly sunny with the temperature hovering near freezing with just very light winds on the shooting range. The track conditions, although fast, were icy in spots, making for cautious skiing on the downhills and turns. With tentative skiing, early starter Davidova got the early edge with a clean prone stage, while admitting. “I did not feel so good on the skis today because it was so icy and tricky. I was so bad on the downhills, but I think everybody struggled today.”
Both Oeberg sisters missed a shot in prone. Simon was quicker than usual on the range with a clean stage just .4 slower than Davidova. Herrmann-Wick got in the mix with a clean stage, just 4.4 seconds back. Surprising Lampič with just one weekend of IBU Cup competitions under her belt, after skiing faster than the field into the prone stage surprised with a clean stage, 11.4 seconds faster than Davidova.
Herrmann-Wick, “focused and calm”
Davidova did not allow a single standing penalty in standing to slow her down as she left with a significant lead. Elvira after skiing a strong second loop came to standing with a chance at the lead, but missed her second shot, leaving18 seconds behind her Czech rival. Simon also added a single penalty, but she was skiing brilliantly and was just 2.6 seconds behind Davidova.
Herrmann-Wick shot confidently, fast and clean, putting her deadly ski speed within striking distance of the lead, 6.8 seconds back with 2.5 km to go. “I tried to use the time yesterday in training to come a bit slower into the shooting range and today it worked really well and paid off…I tried to stay focused and calm; the goal was to hit the targets today…When you go out on the last loop with zero shooting, it feels really great.”
Simon also missed a shot in standing, leaving in third, but was 23 seconds back. Lampič’s lead vanished when she had three penalties.
Pulling Away for the win
By the 6.1 km split, Hermann-Wick was ahead of Davidova by the 6.1 km split; she continued to pull away until she had an 18-second margin at the finish. Simon lost a bit of time in the last loop but held on for third place.
Simon: Yellow Bib, podium happiness
With her third place, Simon moved into the Yellow Bib for the first time in her career but was just happy to be on the podium with another great day on the range. “It is just really nice to be on the podium again. It was a tough race: good shooting was quite okay. On the tracks, I was not in my best shape, but I fought a lot. I am happy with the result.” (I have been working on my shooting) over the past two years. It takes a really long time. I do not know how to explain it, but I think I understand now how it (prone shooting) works. It is easier if the prone shooting works. You can fight to the finish line especially if your standing shooting is also good. My prone shooting has helped me a lot this year. I am really happy to be here with no mistakes in prone.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Igor Stancik