Idre, Sweden welcomed the athletes with beautiful winter weather. In bright sunshine Marion Wiesensarter of Germany missed once in standing, but still proved to be the best sprinter today. In the men’s 10km competition Lucas Fratzscher, also missing one target, gave Germany a sweep of the first two sprints of the season.
Wiesensarter claimed the win in the women's 7.5 km sprint in 21:02.3 for her first-ever IBU Cup podium. Caroline Colombo of France, after missing twice in the standing stage, finished second, 0.5 seconds back. Missing once in prone, Ukraine’s Darya Blashko finished third for the last spot on the podium, 3.1 seconds behind.
First-ever IBU Cup podium
It was a great day for Wiesensarter (formerly Deigentesch) with her first-ever win on the IBU Cup circuit. Despite cleaning prone, the German was seventh after the prone stage almost 8 seconds behind Colombo who also closed all five targets, taking the lead. While Colombo held the lead entering standing, the German managed to climb up one spot with a long 15 seconds separating her from Colombo. The cards turned after the standing, Colombo picked up two penalties, Wiesensarter one, resulting in the latter taking the lead while Colombo found herself fifth coming off the penalty loop, 9.4 seconds behind Wiesensarter. Colombo, fast on skis, managed to cross the finish line in second with only .5 seconds separating her from first-ever IBU Cup winner Wiesensarter who is setting her season goal no lower than the Olympic Winter Games.
“Today was a really good race! It was the first podium for me at the IBU Cup, I was really happy. Last week we had qualifications where I didn’t feel so good so it was a little bit of a surprise that I was so good today. I hope it will get better, because it is just the beginning. I think for everyone who is a little bit older, the ambition is of course Olympics even though it is really hard in the German team because we have a lot of good girls, but yeah, but it is kind of a goal for me to qualify for the Olympics.”
With the top two decided, the fight for the last podium spot was a surprise when Darya Blashko raised like a phoenix from 23rd before standing to third, 6.1 seconds back. Cleaning the standing stage, the Ukrainian passed her competitors moving up to second at the 6.1 km split. Giving her best, Colombo managed to beat Blashko on skis pushing the Ukrainian to the third.
Anastasia Shevchenko of Russia, with one penalty, finished fourth, 3.7 seconds back. Elisabeth Hoegberg of Sweden also with a standing penalty finished, 10 seconds back. Germany’s Maren Hammerschmidt with two penalties finished sixth, 10.3 seconds back.
Starting in the sunlight, finishing when the sun was going down, the men's 10km sprint competition featured good fights for the highest places. Stable throughout the competition, Lucas Fratzscher of Germany finished first in 24:10.6, despite one standing penalty. Mid-field starter Sverre Dahlen of Norway finished second, with one penalty, a mere .3 seconds back. Fratzscher's teammate, Johannes Kuehn, also with one penalty, finished third, 1.6 seconds behind Fratzscher.
"I like the cold conditions"
Shooting clean, but fourth after prone, 14 seconds behind the leader, Haavard Gutuboe Bogetveit of Norway, stayed focused to fight for the top places. Third by the 4.4km split point, the German missed one in the standing keeping the top 3 place. Arriving at standing with a 16.7 second lead over Kuehn, Bogetveit lost his momentum with three penalties leaving him 13th. With no possibilities of victory Bogetveit, the fastest skier of the day, still pushed, managing to climb back nine spots to fourth. With Bogetveit out of the picture, Fratzscher seized the opportunity, moving from third to first by the finish.
Fratzscher admitted that the conditions suited him. "The conditions were not so easy today. It is really cold and a little bit windy. In the shooting range we had some wind and it was not so easy to shoot. But I like such cold conditions. I’m really happy because last year I had some problems with my skiing time and I’m really happy to be back on the podium. I also saw the girls’ race and it is often that when the girls are really good, the boys aren't so I was a little bit nervous, but finally it was possible that the girls and the boys had a good race. It was possible because of the good preparation and because we have a good team around us. I think it worked very well and I hope that it can continue like that. "
Germans double up
Holding second throughout the competition, Kuehn had his eyes on a 1-2 German finish but the Norwegian had other plans. Falling back to the 20th after missing once in prone, Aspenes was surely not considered a threat to the German victory. Yet as the top competitors picked up the penalties in the standing bout, the Norwegian cleaned making his way to the top, taking a 0.9 second lead over Kuehn and 3.9 lead over Fratzscher after the standing stage, leaving the competition to be settled in the last loop. Faster on skis, Fratzscher brought the win home for Germany leaving Aspenes to settle for the second and Kuehn for the third.
After three standing penalties ruined his competition, Bogetveit finished fourth, 24.7 seconds back. Vasilii Tomshin of Russia with two penalties finished in fifth place, 29.3 seconds back. France’s Emilien Claude missed also twice to finish sixth, 29.7 seconds back.
Photos: IBU/ Evgeny Tumashov