Goal: “shoot like in the individual”
Wierer after shooting clean and winning Thursday’s women’s 15 km individual did the same today, However, this was the Italian veteran’s first time to close all 20 targets in a mass start. “In the warm-up like always, I felt so bad. Finally, it was not so bad…My main goal was to shoot like in the individual race and it worked out. Twenty hits was just perfect for me.”
“Afraid of the French girls”
She again had a very fast ski time, especially when she pulled away in the last loop, showing her best form of the season. “I do not feel like that; I just focused on myself. I was really afraid of the French girls because they are really fast. So I just pushed as hard as possible…It was just perfect conditions for my skiing...I think I like Oestersund!”
Norway’s Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, with one penalty finished fourth, 40.1 seconds back. Caroline Colombo gave the French team three places in the top six, in fifth place, also 40.1 seconds back, with two penalties. Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg, with two penalties, finished sixth, 47.5 seconds back
Great winter weather continued today for the women with -5C, bright sunshine, hard fast tracks with again light winds on the shooting range. Half of the field led by Simon cleaned the first prone with ease; all leaving the stadium within 10 seconds creating a long train as they went out for the second loop. Lisa Vittozzi after two penalties was 30th, 49 seconds back and never made her way back to the top group.
Wierer, in the lead group from the outset, admitted that she likes Oestersund “when they have these good real winter conditions…and no wind. A few years ago, I think I took three minutes in the last standing!”
The Yellow/Red Bib cleaned the second prone stage as easily as the first, leading a group of four with the also-clean Wierer, Jeanmonnot, and Olsbu Roeiseland trailing within 4.5 seconds. By the 7 km split, the top three had left the Norwegian behind, putting almost a 10-second gap between them and fourth position.
Simon closed her first five standing targets confidently with a very fast cadence, taking a 7-second lead over her teammate and the Italian, both of whom also cleaned. Roeiseland stayed within striking distance at 12.8 seconds back. Over the next loop into the last standing stage, Simon gliding easily over the snow pushed the pace adding seconds to her lead.
She explained her strategy. “I really wanted to be on the podium in this race and tried everything I could. I decided to race in front and have fun, enjoy every second in my shooting. Be natural on the shooting range… I am someone who likes to attack, just be me because that is the thing I like, I shot fast and got some easy seconds.”
The first four standing targets in the last stage went down with ease for the French star before the last one failed to close, changing everything as she went to the penalty loop. Wierer and Jeanmonnot responded with quick clean stages. Wierer led by three seconds over Jeanmonnot with Simon out of the loop 12 seconds back.
Jeanmonnot “preferred keeping second instead of losing podium”
Jeanmonnot was conservative as she approached the final standing stage. “I decided to stay with Doro because my ski time was bit slower than Julia’s so staying with Doro was the best strategy for me. The last shooting, I am a bit sad, disappointed about that, because I think I could fight for the lead at the beginning of the lap but I was stressed about feeling really bad at the end of the lap, so I preferred to keep the second place instead of maybe losing the podium.”
The Italian star immediately put a gap between her and the budding French star, sealing her lead and the victory while Jeanmonnot and Simon completed the podium.
Wierer admitted she was concerned throughout the competition about Simon. “After I had two zeros, Julia was pushing really hard. I was sure she (Julia) would make zero on the last shooting and then I heard…she was shooting really fast…that she missed the last. I just said, ‘focus on yourself.’ It was really good. But I was sure she would catch me in the last loop because normally I am not so strong.”
Simon’s big leads in Total and Mass Start Scores
Simon was philosophical about her third place that bumped her lead in the World Cup Total Score to 1003 points to Wierer’s 859 points. At the same time she extended her lead in the World Cup Mass Start Score to 225 points, 79 clear of Anais Chevalier-Bouchet. “Of course, you always want to have a good race and perfect shootings but another podium is important. I am happy about that, but that last shot was too much. Still, being on the podium is really good for the overall.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Per Danielsson