“Before the race I was really nervous”
Wierer did not think she would win today. “I am really happy and did not think it was possible to make such a good race today. I started and felt really bad, such bad legs. It was really good on the shooting range with zero-zero. I did not expect that because before the race I was really nervous and because of the wind, but it was good.”
“Pushing as hard as possible”
The Antholz Valley native was unsure of how she managed a good last loop. “I do not know…I was just pushing as hard as possible…I did not have a good feeling today but it was good finally, I think."
Wierer later emphasized how nice, but also hard it was to win in the stadium she has trained in her whole life. “It is amazing to win in front of my home crowd; I really like Antholz. It is really nice because there are friends and family here. It is always special and it’s not so easy because there is more stress and pressure at home.”
Elvira Oeberg after missing the Ruhpolding mass start with illness, shot clean in third place, 8.7 seconds back, a completely surprising result. “It is very unexpected. I did not think this when I woke up this morning…I have not been healthy and needed to get better. It has been a difficult couple of days, shifting between hope and despair. I am really happy that I decided to start today…I had no idea what to expect with the altitude and having a cold a few days before. It was hard, knowing how to pace the race. Super happy that I got to step up on the podium today.” Marte Olsbu Roeiseland of Norway with one penalty, finished fourth, 14.7 seconds back.
Slovenia’s Anamarija Lampic continued to her meteoric rise in biathlon, with two penalties, finishing in a career-best equaling fifth place, 18.4 seconds back. Lampic, 10th and 42.7 seconds back after standing flew around the last loop to earn a spot in her second World Cup Flower Ceremony. Germany’s Denise Herrmann-Wick with two penalties finished sixth, 23.1 seconds back.
After weeks of warm weather and limited snow, it was finally “real winter” today in Antholz, with fresh natural snow covering the tracks and surrounding peaks, -2C and swirling winds in the stadium. Yellow Bib Julia Simon set the bar right away in prone, with five easy shots and the initial best time. Wierer did the same, leaving 3.7 seconds slower.
The Italian explained her shooting strategy that involved taking more breathes than usual. “I am really happy about my shooting. It was really important to shoot clean today…In prone,” I was just focusing on shot-by-shot and not shoot too fast because the breathing is really hard. In standing was the same, I just shot the first and had to breathe two times which I normally never do.” Olsbu Roeiseland continued her comeback with a clean stage, 6.4 seconds back. Late starter Chevalier made a move to the top spot with the fastest prone stage of the day, less than a second faster than Simon.
Simon struggled in standing, with two penalties, falling out of podium contention. Elvira shot clean to move into the top spot until Wierer did the same putting an exclamation mark on her day with five confident, steady shots that put her 15.6 seconds up on Elvira. Lampic, with a prone penalty, added a second in standing but with her blazing ski speed left the stadium just 36.9 seconds back. Olsbu Roeiseland after a single miss, made a podium run, leaving in third position.
Yet it was Chevalier, on fire with a second clean stage overtook Wierer by 5 seconds before the last loop. Chevalier admitted her confidence on the range. “At the moment, I am so confident at the shooting range so I took my chance today to do what I am able to do in the relays. It is so nice to find myself…Relays are really important to help you find your confidence.”
Elvira had an outstanding last loop, but Wierer, despite looking a bit tired coming down the finish stretch still managed to top the Swede by 8.7 seconds. Lampic continued closing in on the podium, moving into third position at the 6.5 km split, until she was topped by Olsbu Roeiseland’s usual fast last loop.
Chevalier Challenges; Finishes Second
Chevalier, going for the win added a couple of seconds to her lead by 5.8 km, but was only 3.4 seconds ahead at 6.5 km. Continuing to battle up the final hill into the stadium, Chevalier just missing the win but finished with a career-best second place. Still, the 27-year-old from Villard de Lans was elated, “I am really happy about it. There are a lot of feelings now. It is so nice, like joy and tired. I waited for that so long a time and now it is okay. I am here; it is really important to me.”
On the last loop, knowing she was in the lead, she, “tried to stay calm because sometimes I lose my calm and it is not so good. So, I tried to keep cool, (thinking) ‘I know I am on the lead, so take a breath and it will be okay.’”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni