Simon’s “big performance”
Simon was very pleased with almost everything in her first sprint win. “I am really happy with my performance today. I feel really good. It was, I think one of my best efforts of the season. I am a little bit angry after the last target missed, so I tried to raise the focus not to start the last lap too fast because it was a really long uphill effort. I tried to ski really calm and be faster at the end of the track.” As for the first sprint win, “I am very happy. It feels so good. It is a big performance. I will enjoy it!” “Today was a good day”
Regarding the four individual competitions remaining in the season, today’s winner expressed one goal. “Do my best! It is going to be interesting with two mass starts, a sprint and a pursuit. I just want to do my biathlon the best I can. Today was a good day and I need to do the same.”
Finishers four through six all had one penalty, with Voigt’s teammate Olympic 15 km individual Champion Denise Hermann finishing fourth, 16.1 seconds back. Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, finished fifth, 21.9 seconds back while Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg finished sixth, 23 seconds back.
Overcast and +3C with the expected wind, blowing across and in the shooter’s faces on the range for the eighty-six women in this afternoon’s first-ever BMW IBU World Cup sprint in Otepaeae. Starter #8 Anais Chevalier-Bouchet was the first to clean the prone stage, taking the lead. Voigt, unsurprisingly did the same, but 16 seconds slower. Tandrevold got in the mix with her won perfect stage, 6 seconds off the lead. Wierer easily went 5-for-5 putting her in third position. Starter 38 Simon took the lead away from her teammate with a perfect stage.
The seemingly always accurate Voigt was the second to clean standing, moving into the top spot, after Chevalier-Bouchet missed a shot. Hanna also was perfect just before her, while Tandrevold missed a shot. They were second and fourth, but just 5.7 and 7.7 seconds back. Wierer missed two shots to fall from podium contention. Hermann, after a prone penalty, cleaned standing, putting the speedy German just 15 seconds behind her young teammate. Simon came to standing with a 5-second lead, hit four shots quickly, hesitated and missed the final one, yet still came out of the loop with a 2-second lead over Voigt. Coming into standing in fourth position after cleaning prone, Knotten quickly cleaned, leaving 11 seconds faster than Simon.
With 600 meters to go, Voigt’s lead was up to nine seconds. Tandrevold tried to catch the German, but actually lost a couple of seconds by the 6.9 km split, while remaining in second through the finish. Herrmann flew around the last loop, moving just behind Voigt by the 6.2 km split. The powerful Simon however could smell the victory, adding a couple of seconds at the same point. At the 6.9 km split, she was up by 9,7 seconds, heading for victory. Knotten, unable to hold her lead after standing, seemingly completely spent coming into the last 100 meters slowed but finished just ahead of Herrmann for third place.
Knotten saw her lead fade away, could do nothing about it but was pleased to be third and her second career podium. They told me in the first uphill that i was in the lead like by 10 seconds which was kind of unreal since I had bib number 53. I knew if I stay here, I would stay here. Julia came closer and closer. I was told eleven, and six and three. I went, ‘no.’ I saw her speed on her second lap and was like, ‘I can’t match that.’ The boys told me yesterday that you have to be really tough from the beginning and relax in the downhills. I tried and my second loop was really good. I was happy with it. On the last one, I could not bend my legs anymore. I tried to push with all I had, but it was not enough today. A bit disappointed at the finish line in third but a moment’s relief and ‘this is really good.’”
Simon’s powerful last loop deprived Voigt of her first victory but left Voigt with a personal best second place finish.
First podium, “Cherry on the Cake”
The 2020/21 IBU Cup Total Score titlist Voigt felt the podium was a possibility with just a bit of work and some extra power. “It feels amazing; such a great season for me. Today is the cherry on the cake for me… (Before the season) I did not believe that I could get the podium this year. I knew I was very strong on the shooting range, but In Kontiolahti I was sixth with zero-zero, so I knew I had to train on my shooting speed and on my course time, so I did not expect this…Maybe I got some extra power in the last loop when I heard I was very good today. I do not how I found the extra power. It is crazy; I gave all I had.”
Photos: IBU/Hendrik Osula