15 km Individual Gold to Denise Herrmann

Germany’s Denise Herrmann, after missing a shot in her second prone stage came back, cleaning the last standing stage and skiing to victory this evening in the Women’s 15 km Individual taking her first-ever Olympic Gold medal in 44:12.7. Herrmann who moved from cross-country to biathlon in 2016 now has OWG medals in both sports. She previously won a Bronze medal in the women’s 4 X 5 km cross-country relay at Sochi in 2014. France’s Anais Chevalier-Bouchet, also with one penalty won the Silver medal, 9.4 seconds back. Today’s medal was her second Silver medal at Beijing 2022; Chevalier-Bouchet ran the leadoff leg on the French Silver medal mixed relay team two days ago. Norway’s Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, after winning a Mixed Relay Gold medal on Saturday, with two penalties today won the Bronze medal, 15.3 seconds back. She previously won two Silver medals in the women’s 7.5 km sprint and mixed relay at the 2018 Pyeongchang OWG.

Header iconBeijing 2022 Women's 15 km Individual

Call her, “Olympic Champion”

In responding to being called Olympic Champion, Herrmann replied, “It sounds really good. It was a dream but I never thought it would be enough for Gold in the individual. It is a special race, the traditional biathlon race. I focused on myself all the tine during the race. In the last lap, I held a bit of energy. I had a really good race and it was much harder to ski then. I tried to make the best I could do today. At the end you never know what happens. The waiting after the race was horrible and I was much more nervous than before the race. That it is Gold at the end is super amazing!”

Focused on every shot

Regarding her single-penalty shooting, Hermann added, “At some points it works well and sometimes I go on the mat and everything is away. Today it was all present…I tried to focus on every target, not on range time. I think I was really slow, but that is not important in the individual. You have to shoot clean. After the mistake, I said, ‘relax, relax,’ because the pressure is there and it worked really well.”

Herrmann’s teammate Vanessa Voigt, with one penalty finished fourth, 16.6 seconds back. Dzinara Alimbekava of Belarus, also with one penalty finished fifth, 31.7 seconds back while Czech Republic’s Marketa Davidova with one penalty finished sixth, 31.9 seconds back.

Nice day: good shooting conditions

The women got a break today after the tumultuous, very tough conditions in the mixed relay. Sunshine again reigned, pulling the temperature up to a balmy -7C while the wind dropped down from almost unmanageable to light. The number 1 ranked woman in the sport had the privilege to start today with Number 1. First into the range, Olsbu Roeiseland missed one prone shot. Unlike the Norwegian who shot carefully, Dorothea Wierer shot with her usual fast cadence and cleaned. Herrmann skied a very fast first loop, then shot very slowly but clean, leaving 3 seconds faster than Wierer. Chevalier-Bouchet matched, slipping into the second spot. The clean shooting continued as 2021 IBU World Champion Davidova and defending OWG Champion Hanna Oeberg did the same, with Hanna just 4 seconds back. Then Eckhoff, showing her usual speedy skis cleaned to go nine seconds up on the German. Elvira Oeberg one-upped Eckhoff by also cleaning and getting away 4 seconds faster.

Herrmann into the lead

Olsbu Roeiseland cleaned the first standing stage, but Wierer missed her second shot. Herrmann shot faster than usual and cleaned, going into the lead. Chevalier-Bouchet responded with her second clean stage, moving to second. Davidova stayed perfect with five downed targets, while Hanna missed twice, ending her medal hopes. Elvira, skiing fast missed single shot falling 40 seconds back. Alimbekava after a perfect prone stage, did the same in her first standing to move into third.

Alimbekava moves up

The first starter came to the second prone stage, cleaning with ease as did Wierer. Herrmann came to the second prone with a lead of over a minute but it slipped away with one missed target. Chevalier-Bouchet’s clean stage pushed her to the top of the leaderboard by 26 seconds. Davidova’s five perfect shots moved her just behind her French rival. Everything changed when Alimbekava went to 15-for-15 to move 7 seconds ahead of Chevalier-Bouchet.

Herrmann skis to Gold

Missing the last shot in the last standing stage almost took Olsbu Roeiseland out of the podium mix but two by Wierer doomed the Italian. Herrmann came to the last standing with the lead, shot calmly with confidence and cleaned to take the lead by 15 seconds over the Norwegian. Like the Norwegian, Chevalier-Bouchet and Davidova both came to the range in the lead but missed a shot. Still the French star left in second position. Alimbekava cracked slightly in her standing stage, missing a shot, However, her fast skiing ate up much of the one-minute penalty, putting her 11 seconds behind Herrmann with 3 km to go. Yet there was a potential medal battle when Voigt also cleaned to leave 18 seconds back.

Herrmann fired up her cross-country skills on the last loop, adding seconds to her lead to seal the Gold medal. Chevalier-Bouchet also skied the last loop quickly, just not as fast as the German, finishing 9.4 seconds back. Alimbekava slowed in the last loop, allowing Olsbu Roeiseland to hold on to the Bronze medal spot.

Wearing Number One

Olsbu Roeiseland admitted that wearing number 1 was a bit disconcerting. “I was a bit afraid when I saw the start list yesterday, but it is 15 km and you just have to go alone anyway. I just did my best. I had some loops with Tiril (Eckhoff) and that was really fun, I have to thank her because I was only 1.4 seconds in front of fourth place. I have to thank her that I could stay behind her on the last loop.”

Something to Change

Regarding the conditions at this new venue, she added, “It is tough not only in the tracks but also on the shooting range, because you are so tired and your head is not so focused. I just tried to take one shooting at a time and focus on myself. I think I did it really good but the last shot in the last shooting, I am not so happy about that. I think I was thinking about it too much. That is something I want to change for the sprint.”

Chevalier-Bouchet: “Doing the biathlon I Love

Chevalier-Bouchet, despite winning a Silver medal in the mixed relay was extremely disappointed with her effort Saturday after five spare rounds and a standing penalty. Today, she felt redeemed. “I was not very satisfied about my relay race but now I can enjoy my individual medal, so it is all positive…Today I was very relaxed and when I am relaxed, I can do the biathlon I love; shooting well and fast and skiing well and fast; pretty fast. I did it my way today. It worked and I am really happy about that…I came here wishing for a relay medal and an individual medal. After two races, I can do (race) freely and that is perfect.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni

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