arte Olsbu Røiseland, after missing the Annecy Le Grand Bornand World Cup opened 2020 with a victory in this afternoon’s foggy Oberhof sprint. Despite the conditions, the Norwegian shot clean, finishing in 22:04.9 for her first win this season and fourth in her career. Germany’s Denise Herrmann finished second, with one penalty, 33.1 seconds back. France’s Julia Simon also with one penalty matched her career best in third place, 47.4 seconds back.
Lot of Energy
Olsbu Røiseland was thrilled with her victory, admitting the time of at the end of 2019 helped. “I had a good Christmas and did a lot of good training. I was really excited today and had a lot of energy. It was so fun and I am so glad that I did the job today and hit 20…sorry 10 targets.”
On a day when only three women shot clean, she added, “I am not sure what the key was. I was really focused. I just did what I should do and not focus on the wind and rain or anything; just on the job. It worked this time!”
The winner admitted the conditions were nothing new for her. “I am from Norway, so we are used to this. It was good training.”
Italy’s Dorothea Wierer in the Yellow Bib finished fourth, with one penalty, 1:01.8 back. Olsbu Røiseland’s teammate Tiril Eckhoff who won the last four competitions in 2019 had two penalties today to finish fifth, 1:07.1 back. Sixth place went to Paulina Fialkova of Slovakia, with one penalty, 1:09.1 back.
Typical Oberhof Conditions
The first competition of 2020 started with typical Oberhof conditions: light rain, +6C temperature, moderate wind on the shooting range and low hanging fog that made the competitors at times look like nothing more than passing dark shadows. Once again, the conditions helped dictate the results.
Hermann Pumps Up the Crowd
Number11 Marketa Davidova cleaned prone to take the early lead. That set off a string of perfect bouts that put Olsbu Røiseland at the top of the leaderboard, with Vittozzi a few seconds back. Herrmann pumped up the crowd by matching her Italian and Norwegian rivals and moving in front of them. With most of the top contenders in the first 40 starters, Wierer moved into contention in third with her own perfect stage.
Olsbu Røiseland Cleans Standing, Takes Lead
The wind was just tricky enough to slow down the standing shooting and cause some penalties. Simon however ignored the situation and after a prone penalty moved into contention by efficiently closing all five of her standing targets. Still, Olsbu Røiseland was the first of the big names to clean standing; that put her back in the lead. Herrmann missed a shot while shooting slowly, but moved into second. The Yellow Bib also had one penalty but her quick shooting moved her into the third spot with one loop to go.
Strong Last Loop
That last loop changed little. After leaving standing with a 37 second lead over her German rival, it was just a matter of how many seconds the Norwegian would gain or lose over the last loop. She held a strong pace to finish in first. Hermann pushed hard but only managed to gain four seconds. However that was enough to hold second place as Wierer faded badly to fall behind Simon, who maintained her pace on the last loop to finish third. Once Wierer finished, the competition was effectively over; no one who started after the Yellow Bib finished in the top six.
Herrmann’s First Podium of Season
Herrmann, with her first podium of the season commented, “I am really satisfied with my race today and happy that I made this performance in Oberhof in the home World Cup. I had good preparation before in Switzerland, getting in some easy training at altitude…I know I am in really good shape…My main focus was to do my plan, to ski fast and have a good performance on the shooting area…Today was a good day for me.”
Simon adjusted to the hard shooting conditions. “I knew it would not be easy on the shooting range so I tried to stay focused. After the prone shooting, I tried to do my best in standing and it was great. Everything was perfect for me today.”