Rebounding Vittozzi, filled with emotions
Vittozzi rebounded in style, shooting clean today after her disastrous six penalties in the Pokljuka sprint. She was extremely emotional after the competition, struggling for words in between tears of joy. “I am really emotional…really happy…It is amazing. I do not know what to say… It really means a lot. I really worked hard for this day to come. I am really proud; for me it is a perfect day.”
On the shooting rebound, she added, “In the past year, I learned how to start again and again and again after a bad race. I try to stay quiet and calm before the shooting range.”
France’s Lou Jeanmonnot, shot the same 20-for-20 as Vittozzi to finish second in a career-best with her first-ever World Cup podium, 39 seconds back. Her Yellow Bib-wearing teammate Julia Simon with one penalty finished third, 45.2 seconds back.
Jeanmonnot gushed about her big day. “It is so cool. I am really happy. My first clean shooting in an individual race; it was a goal to achieve that today. With a medal at the end, it is amazing!”
Regarding her first clean individual, “Being able to do it in the mass start or pursuit is a bit easier to me because you are in the race, and you have people to follow. In the individual race, you only have yourself to fight against, so it is harder. I am proud to achieve that.”
Vittozzi’s teammate Dorothea Wierer, finished fourth, 1:09.7 back. Swedish sisters Hanna and Elvira Oeberg finished fifth and sixth, 1:10.9 and 1:20.5 back, respectively. All three women had one penalty.
The women had conditions similar to what the men dealt with on Wednesday. +4C temperatures again kept the snow soft, but a bit harder than yesterday after today’s men’s training was cancelled The wind remained low, with cloudy skies hovering over the Chiemgau Arena. Simon and Wierer started the day by cleaning the first prone stage. Herrmann-Wick did the same to move a couple of seconds in front of the duo, delighting the crowd. Number 30 Hanna and Elvira at Bib 33 cleaned easily, with Elvira leaving less than a second behind the German.
Wierer quickly cleaned the first standing stage as did Simon, with the Yellow Bib taking the lead. Herrmann-Wick added a minute with a missed shot, putting Wierer and Simon atop the leaderboard. Vittozzi shot clean, going out fifth.
Things heated up in the second prone. Wierer went to go 15-for-15. Simon cleaned fast going up 13 seconds. Vittozzi, moving from 12th to 4th after cleaning the first two stages added a third perfect round, jumping to second. Jeanmonnot continued her drive for the podium, cleaning once again, moving up to fourth.
Everything changed in the last standing: Wierer shot carefully, missing once. Simon did the same, remaining 13 seconds ahead of Wierer. Simon commented on her miss, “I knew I had to shoot clean but I had one miss. Just before the shooting, I tried to stay focused on my shooting, my technical points and I had one mistake. I also knew that Doro missed one. I said, ‘maybe behind me will be the same’ but Lou shot clean. She was stronger than me today.”
Vittozzi did what her rivals failed to do: closing all five targets, taking a commanding 48 second lead over the Yellow Bib. Hanna, after a penalty in the first standing got revenge, cleaning the last one, going out in third, one second ahead of Wierer. A surprise followed the Swede with Jeanmonnot like Vittozzi, gradually moving up throughout the competition, with clean stage after clean stage, made it a 20-for-20 day moving into second ahead of her teammate Simon.
The last loop was a mere formality for Vittozzi, with no one challenging but she tried not to think about what was happening. “I realized that I could win the competition. It was really emotional but I did not think about it; (I told myself) ‘go fast as you can’.”
French teammates second and third
Jeanmonnot slowed a bit in the last loop, but stayed ahead of Simon, giving the French team second and third place. Simon enjoyed having a teammate on the podium with her, especially Jeanmonnot. “I am really happy with my teammate on the podium, a good day for the French team. Teammates on the podium is always nice…She deserved this podium.”
“Happy to see the finish line”
Jeanmonnot described her struggle, particularly on the last loop. “In my first loop, I was dong so bad. I wondered how I could finish this race. Just after the last shooting, my coach told me. ‘you are on the podium. 18 seconds above Julia.’ I know she is fast as hell so I needed to do my best. I chose to start the last loop slowly and finish faster, but the last uphill was absolutely horrible. It was getting darker and darker in my eyes. I was happy to see the finish line.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Igor Stančík