IBU Biathlon World Cup Season Recap
March 6-11, 2018 – Kontiolahti, Finland
Following the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, the seventh round of the IBU World Cup kicked off in Kontiolahti, Finland. The U.S.A.’S Lowell Bailey claimed 16th and teammate Leif Nordgren followed in 17th for two top-20 performances. Russia’s Anton Shipulin shot clean, taking the victory, followed by Andrejs Rastorgujevs of Latvia, who also cleaned at 5.8 seconds behind. The top Canadian was Brendan Green, who also cleaned to finish 34th at 1:29.5 behind the winner.
The women got under way with Darya Domracheva of Belarus stealing the win in the women’s 7.5km sprint, just half a second ahead of Franziska Hildebrand of Germany with one missed target. Canada’s Rosanna Crawford claimed a strong 12th-place finish, followed by the U.S.A.’S Clare Egan, who raced to a career-best 13th. Both North Americans suffered one penalty.
The following day saw Team USA rallying from behind to finish ninth in the Mixed Relay with one penalty and 11 spare rounds. Sean Doherty skied the second-fastest second loop on route to US Biathlon’s best Mixed Relay finish of the season. Italy took home the victory with one penalty and 13 spare rounds, with Ukraine in second, accumulating only three spares at 1.5 seconds back. The Canadian squad had a rough day, placing 17th at 4:34.9 behind the winners.
Team Canada’s Crawford and Christian Gow improved from the previous day’s performance and claimed seventh with six spares in the Single Mixed Relay. Team France, with Anais Chevalier and Antonin Guigonnat, came from behind to take the victory with six spare rounds as well. The U.S.A.’S Bailey and Susan Dunklee placed 14th with one penalty and 14 spare rounds.
To close the weekend, Julian Eberhard of Austria won the men’s Mass Start with two penalties, besting series leader Martin Fourcade of France. The Frenchman battled back from two early penalties to secure his place on the podium ahead of Shipulin of Russia. Bailey was the top North American in 14th, accumulating two penalties at 1:06.3 back. No Canadians qualified.
In the women’s 12.5km race, Germany’s Vanessa Hinz shot clean to win the final event of the weekend, crossing the line 13.5 seconds ahead of Italian Lisa Vittozzi. Crawford was the top North American in 13th with one penalty, as the U.S.A.’S Egan placed 23rd, just over two minutes back.
March 13-18, 2018 – Oslo, Norway (Holmenkollen)
In the Holmenkollen at the penultimate eighth round, American Doherty shot clean as he raced to a best-ever 14th-place IBU Biathlon World Cup finish in the men’s 10km sprint. Norway’s Henrik L’abee-lund cleaned for the win at 6.1 seconds ahead of his teammate Johannes Thingnes Boe. In third was France’s Fourcade, who also shot clean to finish at 6.9 seconds off the pace. The top Canadian was Scott Gow in 49th at 2:02.1 back with one penalty.
The U.S.A.’S Dunklee shot clean to deliver her best performance of the season, finishing just off the podium in fourth in the women’s 7.5km sprint. Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia came back from penalty in prone to win, as Domracheva of Belarus shot clean to finish second at 8.9 seconds behind. Crawford led the Canadians in 38th with one penalty at 1:51 behind.
In the women’s 4x6km relay, Crawford anchored Team Canada to an 11thplace finish with 11 spares overall. The French used six spares en route to victory over Germany at 14.1 seconds behind with seven spares. The Italians
rounded out the podium with eight spares. Team USA’S Egan, Dunklee, Joanne Reid and Emily Dreissigacker finished 15th.
The men’s 4x7.5km relay was the final race of the season for Team USA, as they joined the boycott of the final World Cup in Russia to protest the massive doping scandal there. It also marked the final race and storied careers of Bailey and Tim Burke. The four-time Olympians, who grew up racing together in Lake Placid, N.Y. closed out their careers on the same day.
Bailey and Burke teamed up with Doherty and Nordgren to finish seventh for the team’s best relay finish of the 2017-18 World Cup season. The Americans used eight spares to finish at 2:01.5 behind Norway, which won Team Relay gold using only three spares. On the final leg, Austria with five spares took over second from Russia, which settled for third with five spares. Canada finished 16th using 10 spares.
American Dunklee wrapped up her 2017-18 season with a bronze medal in the women’s 10km Pursuit on the final day at the Holmenkollen. Domracheva of Belarus attacked on the steepest hill on the final loop to pull away from Kuzmina of Slovakia to claim the victory with two penalties. Kuzmina suffered four penalties to finish at 9.2 seconds back. Dunklee also had two missed targets, finishing third at 29.5 seconds behind the winner.
The Canadian duo of Julia Ransom and Crawford were 51st and 52nd, crossing the line together. Ransom announced her retirement just prior to the Pursuit race, as she heads back to school (see page 24).
March 22-25, 2018 – Tyumen, Russia
The final round of the BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup was held in Tyumen, Russia at the end of March, with both Canada and the U.S.A. sitting out, as well as 10 other countries that included the Czech Republic, along with several other high-profile biathletes such as Sweden’s Olympic Pursuit gold-medalist Sebastian Samuelsson.
Fourcade of France was on site to take the first of two victories, beginning with the opening men’s 10km sprint. It was his 73rd World Cup victory and he claimed the sprint title, also mathematically clinching a record-setting seventh overall crystal globe. He finished 33.2 seconds ahead of Simon Desthieux of France, with Swede Fredrik Lindstroem crossing the line only 0.2 seconds later. The entire podium shot clean.
The women’s 7.5km sprint was held a day later, with Domracheva of Belarus taking the win under the lights with clean shooting at 1.2 seconds ahead of Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen. Tiril Eckhoff of Norway claimed the final spot on the podium with one penalty at 33.3 seconds behind. Despite a 12thplace finish, Slovakia’s Kuzima took home her first crystal globe for the sprint overall title.
In the men’s 12.5km Pursuit, France’s Fourcade returned to the top step of the podium with one penalty, claiming his seventh consecutive Pursuit globe
in the process. Norway’s Boe finished second with one missed target, while Lukas Hofer of Italy took third at 1:08.4 back.
Finland’s Makarainen took her second podium of the weekend in the women’s 10km Pursuit, stealing the top step from France’s Anais Bescond. The Finnish skier had two penalties, but cleaned the final shooting session to set up a dramatic sprint finish. Laura Dahlmeier of Germany took third with one penalty at 17.5 seconds back.
Maxim Tsvetkov took his first World Cup win with clean shooting in the men’s 15km Mass Start in front of the Russian home crowd, followed by Norway’s Erlend Bjoentegaard in second, with Boe third. Fourcade of France finished 12th on the day to secure his sweep of the overall Individual crystal globe, as well as the Mass-start overall title.
Belarus’s Domracheva took her second win of the final round with one penalty in the women’s 12.5km Mass Start, coming from behind on the final lap to pass eventual second-place finisher Pauline Fialkova of Slovakia, who also suffered one missed shot. Despite shooting clean, Anais Chevalier of France could only manage third at 6.6 seconds down. Makarainen of Finland placed sixth, yet still claimed the women’s Mass-start crystal globe.
Although not at the final competition, many teams still claimed their crystal globes for overall success throughout the season. Nadezhda Skardino of Belarus won her first globe in the Individual Competition, while the Italians prevailed in the Mixed Relay. In the Team Relays, Norway and Germany took home crystal globes for the men’s and women’s events. Fourcade of France and Makarainen of Finland were both presented with the big crystal globes marking their top-tier overall World Cup scores.
As the season wrapped up, the U.S.A.’S Burke finished his final season as the top North American man in 32nd, while Christian Gow led the Canadian men overall in 49th. American Dunklee was 34th in the final women’s rankings, followed by Crawford, the top Canuck, in 43rd.
American Susan Dunklee wrapped up her season with a bronze in the women's 10km Pursuit at the Holmenkollen. Tim Burke finished his career as the top American man overall.
Rosanna Crawford was the top Canadian woman overall.
The U.S.A.'S Clare Egan raced to a career-best 13th in Kontiolahti, Finland.