Berger Finishes Fast to Win Women’s Sprint

Tora Berger had a slow start to the season with 14th place in the 15K Individual on Wednesday here in Östersund, but finished fast today to win the Women’s 7.5K Sprint.

Photo: IBU/Christian Manzoni

Photo: IBU/Christian Manzoni

Clean Shooting for Top Five

Clean shooting and a close battle for the podium was the order of the day, as the first five women dropped all five targets and finished within 17.2 seconds. Following Berger across the line was Russia’s Olga Medvedtseva, 6.8 seconds back, Kaisa Mäkäräinen of Finland, 10 seconds back, Helena Jonsson, 10.1 seconds back and Chaoqing Song of China, 17.2 seconds back.

Wind Conditions

After the cold weather for the two evening competitions, conditions warmed up to a rather mild plus one Celsius for Saturday’s Sprint. Yet it was not a perfect day. The wind from the left side of the shooting range made for tricky shooting. In prone, many athletes’ shots drifted either to the right, or they overcorrected just as the wind slowed down leaving them off the target to the left.

More like the Expected Level

Berger showed today that her finish in the 15K was not indicative of her shape. She was close to the top of the standings throughout the competition, made the necessary adjustments on the shooting range and had a strong final loop to get clear of Medvedtseva and Mäkäräinen. Norwegian Women’s Coach Knut Torre Berland commented on Berger’s win. “This is more what we expected from Tora. She was a little bit ill on Wednesday, so that had some effect on her performance. But today is more like the level we expected her to be at this season.”

More Power

Berger was not pleased with the Individual competition, but made up for it with a sterling performance in today’s Sprint. She stated, “After I saw how far back I was then, I knew that had to do my best today. I just tried to forget Wednesday and focus on today. I think my shooting was really good today and I did a good job on the tracks. I think that today I had a little more power on the last lap that the others used Wednesday. I went as fast as possible on the last lap.”

Medvedtseva was pleased with her second place and especially her performance on the shooting range. She commented, “I am very pleased with my race today, especially on the shooting range, since the conditions were not as good as I expected. I had great support from the coaches on the tracks and that really helped me to get second place. . .My goal for this season is only to get better.” To this comment, press conference moderator Kjell-Erik Kristainsen added, “That means you will be a winner.”

Mäkäräinen took the lead after Song’s early strong performance proved to be not enough for a win. To shoot clean today, Mäkäräinen and the other women had to fight a moderate wind from the left side of the range. She commented on the conditions, “It was not so bad. You just had to take it carefully on the shooting range. It was a little bit easier in standing as the wind was coming from the left (and a little protected on that side of the range).”

Pressure Shooting

She felt that although her effort was good today, it was not enough to win. “I was a little tired on the last lap. Tora had more power than I did . . . still; this was my best start of the season ever. . . I think the training camp I had this summer with the Norwegian Team helped prepare better me for the season. The pressure shooting is something that I usually do not have the opportunity to do. Of course, my shooting was horrible in that camp, but later back in Finland, we did it again and it was much better.

Hometown hero Helena Jonsson missed the podium today by one-tenth of a second, while Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek, and second in the 15K was ninth, 52.7 seconds back with three penalties.

Source: International Biathlon Union

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