The Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival capped a month of elite rollerski tussles featuring some of the biggest names in biathlon. Although those events are history, the focus now shifts to national championships with Germany, Norway, Italy, Austria and France in the spotlight this month
Swedish Sprint Title to Stina Nilsson
Missing in the September line-up is one nation, Sweden who held their annual championship August 20-22 in Sollefteå, with a xc race followed by sprints and a short individual. Sebastian Samuelsson dominated the men’s side with victories in both the sprint and individual. On the women’s side, Stina Nilsson claimed her first biathlon victory, shooting clean in the standing stage of the sprint and cruising to the win over the Oeberg sisters.
The German Championships in at the Hohenzollern Stadium in Arber were hotly contested as usual. Opening with short individual competitions, Denise Herrmann impressed in the women’s 12.5 km, missing two prone shots, but cleaning both standing stages for as 34:13.8 win over Franziska Hildebrand who shot clean but was 1:15.1 back with Vanessa Hinz with one penalty third, just .4 seconds behind Hildebrand. The biggest surprise was Franziska Preuss in 10th, with four penalties 3:04.9 back. Unsurprisingly, Erik Lesser took the men’s 15 km title in 35:31.9 with just a single penalty in the first standing stage. Roman Rees matched Lesser on the shooting range, but settled for second 2.9 seconds back. Johannes Donhauser also had a single penalty in third place, 7.2 seconds back.
The second day’s sprints started with a surprise podium for the men with Marco Gross taking first with one penalty in 23:44.5, just 1.8 seconds ahead of clean-shooting second place Max Barchewitz and 5 seconds in front of Danilo Riethmueller, with one penalty. Women’s individual winner Denise Herrmann slipped to third in the women’s sprint with three penalties, 20.4 seconds back of Janina Hettich, who shot clean, finishing in 18:21.2. IBU Cup Total Score winner Vanessa Voigt also shot clean in second place, 5.9 seconds back.
Fresh Faces on Pursuit Podium
Pursuit day saw another set of fresh faces on the men’s podium. Matthias Dorfer claimed the Championship, after a penalty in each prone stage, he hit all ten standing shots with ease, in a 30:49.6 win over the 12.5 km course. Johannes Kuhn, faster on the tracks but with three penalties took second place, 4.8 seconds back. Third went to Lukas Fratzscher, with four penalties, all in standing, 19.2 seconds back. Vanessa Voigt picked up her first German Championship after getting second in yesterday’s sprint. Franziska Hildebrand and Vanessa Hinz completed the podium in the last competition of the weekend.
Lisa and Doro at Antholz
Lisa Vittozzi opened the Italian Championships at Antholz with a win in the 12.5 km individual, finishing 3:54 ahead of second place Samuela Comola. Lukas Hofer claimed the men’s 15 km title over Patrick Braunhofer.
After skipping the individual due to fatigue from insomnia, Dorothea Wierer went right to the top in Saturday’s sprint, with Comola again in second, while individual champ Vittozzi finished fifth. Dominik Windisch claimed the men’s title, with Tommaso Giacomel taking the Silver medal.
Gold and Silver for Eder and Zdouc
The veteran Simon Eder again proved to be “top dog” in the sprint on newly designed rollerski tracks at Obertilliach. Eder missed a prone shot in his 25:45 win over Julian Eberhard with two penalties, who was 22.9 seconds back. Dunja Zdouc claimed the women’s victory, with clean shooting in 22:13.7. Julia Schwaiger missed a standing shot, but almost caught her teammate. Schwaiger with one standing miss finished a miniscule .1 seconds back.
Sprint winners Eder and Zdouc were relegated to second places in the men’s and women’s individual competitions on Saturday. Eder still skied well, but his four penalties left him 19.8 seconds behind winner David Komatz who only missed two shots, both in the last standing stage, in his 54:45.8 effort. Julian Eberhard with five penalties finished third, 46.2 seconds back. Zdouc only had two penalties in the women’s individual, but winner Christina Rieder had but one taking the victory in 45:14.3, with Zdouc 49.2 seconds back in second place. Lisa Theresa Hauser, after a disappoint sprint grabbed the Bronze medal, with three penalties, 54.6 seconds back.
Johannes and Sturla in Lillehammer
Norway and France close out this championship month when their star-filled teams battle for national bragging rights. The Norwegians expect to have all hands on deck when they converge in Lillehammer with sprints on September 18 followed by mass starts the next day. This will be the first head-to-head rollerski competition duel this year between Johannes Thingnes Boe and Sturla Holm Laegreid. Both have victories this summer, Johannes in Wiesbaden and Laegreid at the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival.
Sprint Titles on the Line in France
That same weekend, the French squad will convene for the first of their two championship weekends, with a Championship sprint followed by a pursuit at Plans D’ Hotonnes Sandrine Bailly stadium in the Jura mountains. Look for Quentin Fillon Maillet and Simon Desthieux to tussle for the titles on the men’s side. while MFNF winner Anais Chevalier-Bouchet is the immediate favorite on the women’s side. The second part of their Championships comes October 16-17 at Arcon’s Florence Baverel Stadium, with a sprint followed by the Championship pursuit.
When the French team closes out rollerski biathlon season, the new BMW IBU World Cup season will be just over a month away…stay tuned.
Photos: IBU/Harald Deubert, Manzoni + Thibaut/Nordic Festival, Svensk Skidskytte/Per Danielsson