The winner, wearing the Yellow Bib had no idea where she mustered the power to take the victory. “I have no idea how I did it. I knew on the last loop that Elvira was behind me. Then on the tracks, the trainers and wax team all were saying, ‘you can do it’ so I had to try. I did and it was so much fun!”
Rest and hitting nineteen targets
Olsbu Roeiseland thinks getting more rest, i.e., skipping yesterday’s relay might have helped seal the win today. “I have not been so good. I am not sick but I think I was a bit tired after Oestersund so I have rested a lot and not trained at all. So I was just in bed, cheering for my teammates. I did not expect to do this great today; my focus was on the shooting range. I did really good there, hit nineteen targets. That was the key today.”
Sola’s teammate Dzinara Alimbekava finished fourth, also with one penalty, 48.1 seconds back. Elvira’s older sister Hanna, with five penalties, finished fifth, 1:11.7 back. Marketa Davidova of Czech Republic, with two penalties finished sixth, 1:15.6 back.
The final competition for this year in Hochfilzen had conditions as spectacular as the men had several hours earlier: brilliant blue skies and no wind on the shooting range. Sola led the 60-woman field, capitalizing on her 45 second lead and cleaning the first prone stage with ease. Olsbu Roeiseland did the same but gained no time on the leader. Alimbekava matched both but trailed by 1:16, with the four women behind her also perfect on the range. With almost a minute lead, the second prone stage was just as fast and perfect for Sola. Her Norwegian rival matched again as did Alimbekava, but remained 1:05 and 1:23 back. Elvira made a big move from 13th to fourth with a clean second prone, but still 23 seconds behind Alimbekava.
Sola cracked with two penalties in the first standing stage, but still left with a 36-second advantage. Olsbu Roeiseland also picked up a penalty while Alimbekava cleaned, putting the Belarusian two seconds in front of the Norwegian. Elvira cleaned again, holding fourth, but 53.8 seconds back. Before the final standing stage, Olsbu Roeiseland moved back into second position.
A single penalty in the last standing stage for Sola combined with a 5-for-5 for the Norwegian closed the gap to 11 seconds. Elvira cleaned for the third straight time to move into third, 27.2 seconds back. By the 9.2 km split, the gap between first and second was down to 5.3 seconds. On the last uphill heading to the 9.6 km split, Olsbu Roeiseland dug deep, gaining with every stride. As they turned downhill, she passed Sola on the outside, sprinting the last 200 meters to victory.
Sola was disappointed, but felt the penalties were the difference maker. “I am a little bit sad that it did not work a little bit better, and I could not take first place. But this is sport, and it was a little bit tough to run today. Anyways, I am really happy with this result, because it is a good result for me and it is a podium…If I did not have one extra penalty loop, I would have had 30-second advantage and leave with that gap and for sure that would be enough to get first place. But we have what we have right now.”
Elvira, happy about nineteen hits
Elvira was most pleased with her shooting today that put her in contention for the podium. “I am super happy. I had a podium earlier this year but it was with not that good shooting. I have been struggling a bit with my shooting. The thing I am most happy about today is my shooting, nineteen hits. Finally, I feel that I got out my capacity on the shooting range. I am so happy about it…I managed to trust my capacity and not get stressed about so many mistakes…I know that I can shoot well but have not managed to do it…I have to thank my shooting coach for always telling me that you know that you can do it.”
Photos: IBU/ Evgeny Tumashov, Christian Manzoni