George Coltea of Romania, with two penalties, finished fourth, 53.2 seconds back. Josef Kabrda of Czech Republic, with one penalty finished fifth, 1:02.2. Vincent Bonacci of the USA, with two penalties finished sixth, 1:03.7 back. After two beautiful summer days, Sprint Saturday turned cloudy and cool, with a light breeze making the day feel a bit like autumn.
Early on it looked like a potential victory for the home team Germany with Kaskel, after missing a prone shot, taking the lead with a clean fast standing stage. His one-penalty effort put the young German initially at the top of the leader board. However, just after he finished the Czech duo changed everything, battling among themselves for the Gold medal. The 2022 IBU Junior Individual World Champion Marecek set the bar high with a strong clean prone stage to take the lead. A few minutes later, Mikyska matched, moving 5.1 seconds up on his teammate.
In standing, Marecek shot very fast and once again was clean, moving 34 seconds ahead of Kaskel. Mikyska came to standing with a chance to stay atop the standings. He again cleaned; 6.6 seconds slower than his teammate. In the last loop, he slowed and was unable to close the gap. The podium was set with a 1-2 for the Czech team, with Kaskel one step below the duo.
Grotian was matched on the range by Silver medalist Kastl, who finished 6.5 seconds back. Puff, with one penalty took the Bronze medal, 45.6 seconds back.
“Last loop was very hard” The 18-year-old left the last standing in second position, 9.6 seconds behind Kastl but a faster last loop sealed the Gold medal over her teammate. “The last loop was very hard, especially the mountain in the last uphill. It was so long…I am so glad it is over now!”
Kastl’s medal: “More than I expected”
Kastl admitted she had no chance against her teammate, but at the same time was thrilled with her second medal this week. “That is crazy. It is more than I expected this week. I wanted to have some good races, but I never expected to go on the podium a second time. I knew Selina could run super fast on the last loop, so I fought super hard, but she was just better. Congrats to her!” Valentina Dimitrova of Bulgaria finished fourth, with one penalty, 56 seconds back. Oleksandra Merkushyna of Ukraine, also with one penalty finished fifth, 57 seconds back. Sixth place went to Tereza Vobornikova of Czech Republic, with two penalties, 1:00.8 back.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni