Despite her two standing penalties, Franziska Hildbrand of Germany took the pursuit win in 30:12.7. On the men’s side, Vasilii Tomshin of Russia proved the best, closing all 20 targets, for a 31:35.4 win.
Hildebrand doubled up by taking the women’s pursuit win, with Evegeniya Burtasova of Russia in second, shooting clean and 11.6 seconds back. Paula Botet of France missed twice, but still earned her first-ever senior podium when finishing third, 52.5 seconds back.
Hildebrand and Burtasova fight for the win
Starting with bib number one for sure gave the German an advantage. With Caroline Colombo of France not starting, her closest competitors were more than 30 seconds behind at the start of the competition. Taking down all the targets in both prone stages with ease, Hildebrand kept the lead until the first standing shooting where her two misses opened the door for Burtasova. With 42 seconds separating the two before the first standing round, Burtasova took her chance seeing that Hildebrand had to ski two rounds on the penalty loop. Cleanng the first standing, Burtasova left the range in the lead, 12.8 seconds ahead of Hildebrand. The German, despite skiing extra 300 meters, still managed to pick up seconds, cutting the gap between them to 4.6 seconds by the start of the last standing stage. Both closed all the targets, but Burtasova, a faster shooter kept the lead and widened the gap to 8 seconds. The duel left on the last loop, Hildebrand showed once again that she has what it takes to win. She closed the gap quickly taking a 5.9 second lead over Burtasova by the 9.1 km split. Holding that until the end, Hildebrand took again the highest spot on the podium leaving Burtasova in second place.
Hildebrand on her win: “I was very happy about two clean prone shootings, then I had a little bit of a struggle on the first standing, I had two misses. But on the last shooting I shot clean and felt strong on the track so I could take the lead on the last loop again. I pushed myself very hard and then I managed to get closer to her and then I overtook her and felt happy!”
First-ever senior podium for Botet
Despite Colombo being out of the picture, the French team still had a reason to celebrate when Paula Botet fought from the 15th place to third. Fourth after the first clean prone, Botet managed to overtake Natalia Gerbulova of Russia, entering the second prone in third. But her one penalty sent her again three spots down leaving her in sixth position after completing the penalty loop. Clean in the first standing, she pushed herself back to the third once again, but Elisabeth Hoegberg of Sweden was knocking on the door. Botet had to clear the standing targets to earn the podium. Unfortunately, she picked up one penalty in the last standing, but the Swede had done the same; she still had the chance to earn her third place back. Overtaking over her teammate Lou Jeanmonnot on the last loop, Botet had her first-ever senior podium.
Clean-shooting Jeanmonnot finished fourth, 56.4 seconds back. Italy’s Hannah Auchentaller closed all 20 targets as well for fifth place, 59.3 seconds back. Hoegberg came in sixth, with 3 penalties and 1:10.2 back.
Vasilii Tomshin dominating the competition since the last shooting, Aleksander Fjeld Andersen of Norway, after four penalties settled for second place finishing 1:01.7 back. Russia's Alexander Povarnitsyn climbed from ninth to third, with one penalty, 1:07.7 back.
Tomshin takes the win
With all Top 3 men from yesterday starting the pursuit within 16 seconds, the results were unpredictable. Arriving shoulder-to-shoulder to the first prone stage, Andersen gave way to his rivals with his one penalty costing the lead. Fratzscher and Tomshin both cleaning prone, left the shooting range first and second with the German having a solid 12.8 second lead over the Russian. The gap got even bigger by the start of the second prone; Fratzscher entered the range with full confidence. He picked up one penalty while Tomshin and Andersen both cleaned, Fratzscher exchanged his leading position for third. Andersen however, managed to close the gap with Tomshin by the first standing round entering the range in the lead. Clearly slower on skis, Tomshin also had to watch Fratzscher pass him before the start of the first standing bout. The German added another penalty to his record while Anderssen and Tomshin cleaned, leaving the range together, Andersen having a small lead over the Russian. The last standing round was however of turn of events for Andersen and Fratzscher. While the two men were busy doing their three penalty loops, Tomshin cleaned and left the range with a very comfortable 1:10.8 lead over Andersen. With no chance of catching Tomshin, Andersen finished second.
Vasilii Tomshin was very happy to win: “Today was really great. I am really happy about today’s first place and about four times zero in the shooting range. For me it is very important to win and to do four times zero. I always like pursuit races. Unfortunately, my legs today were not very good, but luckily my shooting was great.”
Seizing the opportunity, Alexander Povarnitsyn, despite one standing penalty from the last stage, still managed to take the third position from Fratzscher. Keeping it until the end, Povarnitsyn claimed the last step of the podium.
Johannes Kuehn of Germany with four penalties finished fourth, 1:12.6 back. Teammate David Zobel with also four penalties, took fifth place, 1:16.7 back. Fourth after his three misses in the last standing, fifth at the 11.6 km split point, Fratzscher came in sixth, with five penalties, 1:20.8 back.
Photos: IBU/Evgeny Tumashov