IBU Biathlon World Cup Sea­son Re­cap

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Noah Simms

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.

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