“Felt bad; when I feel bad it is good!”
Wierer, with her 29th career podium and her second 15 km individual victory in Oestersund admitted with her typical ironically humor that it was a perfect day. “I think so. I woke up in the morning and I felt really bad. But it is always like that: when I feel bad it is good and when I feel good it is bad. So, I do not know…”
“Four good shootings” Regarding her 20-for-20 shooting, she added, “I was really happy to shoot clean today…I do not feel so confident shooting right now. I am really happy that it worked out…The second shooting I was really afraid because it was really close. I had nearly one miss; I could hear the sound, but finally all the targets were closed. It was four good shootings.”
“Really fast skis”
Her fast last loop that sealed the victory, the fastest among the whole field including speedsters Herrmann-Wick and Anamarija Lampic raised the Italian’s eyebrows with surprise, “Whoo…I do not know how that it possible. Maybe my ski man made really fast skis; thank you!”
Vittozzi wins World Cup Individual Score
Vittozzi finished second, 25.5 seconds back but that was enough for her to win the World Cup Individual Score small crystal globe. The small globe win was the second discipline title of her career and another milestone in a comeback season that produced four medals at the 2023 IBU World Championships and in second place currently in the World Cup Total Score. Being on th e podium in every individual this season, “was really a surprise. I am really happy to take second placer today and the small globe in the individual. Four times on the podium means a lot to me. I am really proud of myself.”
Olympic Individual Gold medalist Denise Herrmann-Wick of Germany finished third with one penalty, 1:38.8 back. France’s Julia Simon, with two penalties finished fourth, 1:49.5 back. Canada’s Emma Lunder shot clean, equaling her second-best performance ever in fifth place, 2:11.9 back. Germany’s Vanessa Voigt also shot clean in sixth place, 2:19.2 back.
The women had a good afternoon for their final 15 km that decided the World Cup Individual Score with -9C, sunshine and light winds on the usually breezy range. Wierer and Simon opened the day with clean first prone stages, putting them 1-2; local favorite Hanna Oeberg picked up two costly penalties dropping her immediately from contention. Vittozzi, battling for the discipline globe, matched her teammate, but 1.2 seconds slower.
Vittozzi overcame her nervousness by a bit of self-talk just before the start. “I was really nervous before the start, but I told myself, ‘be focused on the work and do not worry about the result, stay calm’…I just worked and fought for all the targets. It was my day today and everything was good.” Wierer added a clean first standing taking a 23-second lead on the field. Herrmann-Wick after a prone miss cleaned standing to stay within striking range of the lead.
She explained the miss. “I had a bit of a struggle zeroing. I was not sure that the prone would go well. I had a reaction to the wind but was totally on the other side. I was a bit shocked when I saw the picture. But then I realized it was clear I was on the wrong side, so I clicked back and it was better for the second prone…It was a bit of pressure but I could handle it.”
Vittozzi got the upper hand on Wierer with her own clean stage, going up by 6 seconds. Moments later Tandrevold added a second perfect stage going into third position, a dozen seconds back.
Wierer continued to roll with a faster and again clean third stage, but Vittozzi again went 5-for-5 to go just ahead of Wierer, but the gap was down to 3 seconds.
Coming to the last standing stage, the field narrowed. Marketa Davidova after three perfect stages, immediately fell from the mix with two one-minute penalties. Wierer did all she could with a typical Doro-style fast clean five standing targets down. The Yellow Bib after two misses in the first standing stage, cleaned the last two stages, keeping her in contention. It was not enough. Herrmann-Wick cleaned her third consecutive stage, leaving in third position. Vittozzi matched Wierer with five perfect shots, leaving 6.8 seconds in arears.
Wierer’s Last Loop
The last loop determined the podium. Vittozzi chased her teammate, but with 1500 meters to go, she was 15 seconds back to Wierer’s fastest loop of the day that sealed with win, with Herrmann-Wick in third place.
Wierer was unsure about her ski speed and fast last loop. “I was not sure if it was a good speed or not, because in the beginning (starting with bib 7) you do not have the others to compare to. I just concentrated on my technique and focused on the skis and finally the ski speed was really good. I do not know how that was possible, but I am really happy. (having the fast last loop) is really strange. It has never happened before. I do not know what happened today.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Per Danielsson