“My best performance ever”
The Olympic Champion understated her success but reiterated what she has said all season about enjoying the sport and smiling more than last year. “It feels great. Actually, I do not know what to say. I think I did my best performance ever and I did it today. What can you say about that?”
Smiling and enjoying biathlon
“Last year, it was not such good feelings in the World Championships. Now that I'm here, I'm so glad I went through it. I learned a lot from it. This year I have been enjoying biathlon even more. I am smiling, I am enjoying biathlon even more. I just feel so lucky that I am here and I can race good races.”
Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser and Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold both shot clean, finishing with Olympic personal bests in fourth and fifth place, 47.3 and 1:00.2 back. Kristina Reztsova of ROC, with two penalties and also an OWG personal best, finished sixth, 1:05 back.
Compared to the previous competitions, conditions for this evening’s sprint were quite mild, with virtually no wind, under cloudy skies and the thermometer reading at -4C as started number 1 Tiril Eckhoff left the start house. She shot slowly in the prone stage, picking up a single penalty. 2018 Sprint Silver medalist Olsbu Roeiseland shot confidently and clean, putting her at the top of the leaderboard Wierer shot fast and clean, just 4 seconds slower than Olsbu Roeiseland. Hauser challenged with a perfect prone stage, putting her into third position, 9 seconds back. Elvira came to her prone stage less than a second slower than the Norwegian leader; she cleaned with a steady cadence, leaving with the top prone time, by a mere .4 seconds.
Olsbu Roeiseland came to the standing stage with a 44-second lead, again shot confidently and clean, setting the bar high for the rest of the field. Wierer came to standing 22 seconds slower than her Norwegian rival, but blew the five targets away so fast; cutting the deficit to12 seconds as she left for the last loop. Hauser put in her podium bid by going to 10-for-10, putting her 27 seconds back. Tandrevold just before Hauser cleaned, but remained 6 seconds slower than the Austrian.
Elvira came to standing 20 seconds slower than the leader, shot very carefully but clean, leaving in third, 12 seconds behind Wierer.
The last loop was all-Marte; she skied powerfully over the whole 2.5 km, leaving nothing to chance, finishing with a lead of over a minute with most of the field to come. Wierer lost time on the last loop, finishing 37.2 seconds slower than the Norwegian leader. Hauser also lost time in the last loop, putting her another ten seconds behind Wierer at the finish and off the podium. By the 5.9 km split, Elvira had closed to within 2 seconds of Wierer and was gaining time with every stride. The effort was etched on her face as she got down to just over a second with one kilometer to go. Driving her poles with all the power in her body down the last 100 meters, Elvira crossed the line 6.3 seconds faster than her Italian rival, setting the podium.
Elvira admitted that winning the Silver medal was a dream come true and, “just crazy…my performance today. Then to be able to share this with the team and my sister is amazing. Hanna said she was super proud of me and that really deserved this medal. Those are amazing words to hear. We really worked hard together as a team to get here and we take this medal as team also…When I was at home (4 years ago) watching the previous Olympics I was so impressed by those performances, I was really inspired…I wanted to take an Olympic medal; now I managed to do it. It is a dream come true.”
“It is a Bronze medal; I am really happy”
Wierer fulfilled her much-stated goal of winning an individual medal at these Games. “It is great. I never thought it was possible. I started the race and felt my skis were really good; I have to thank our servicemen for all their hard work. In shooting, I was just thinking about nothing. Of course, the last loop was really hard, but…it is a Bronze medal and I am really happy…I had a good zeroing and was just relaxed. I was just doing biathlon as I should normally.
Fifteen career sprint podiums
Wierer said she was not that good in the sprint, yet surprisingly, after today, 15 of her 43 career podiums have been in the sprint. “Normally, I am not so good in the sprint; better normally in pursuit or mass start. It was really cool that today it worked out this with zero-zero and good but not perfect skiing.” As for the last loop, the Italian knew she was losing time. “(In the last loop) I felt I was losing a lot of time because at the beginning they told me the time and in the last meters, they said nothing!”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni