Östersund, Sweden, Carl Johan Bergman of Sweden claimed his second victory in a row in the Men’s 10K Sprint at the IBU Rollerski Biathlon Cup, while Helena Jonsson stepped up her performance to take the title in the Women’s 7.5K Sprint on Saturday.
Bergman Wins by 2.1 Seconds
Bergman’s margin of victory was quite as comfortable as in Friday’s 12.5K cross-country race, where he won by 26.6 seconds. today, he covered the 10K in 23:43.2, putting him just 2.1 seconds ahead of teammate Mattias Nilsson Jr., and 11.5 seconds before Bjorn Ferry. Bergman’s single prone penalty was his only miscue on the shooting range. Nilsson and Ferry both had single penalties in prone and standing. Bergman commented that everything was “absolutely perfect today.”
Just outside of the top three, but still close to the lead group were Tim Burke of the USA in fourth and David Eckholm in fifth, 21.5 and 37.6 seconds back respectively. Both Burke and Eckholm had two penalties. Lowell Bailey finished seventh, 1:05.4 with one standing penalty, while Jeremy Teela placed tenth, 1:39.6 back with two standing penalties.
US Coach Per Nilsson was pleased with the effort of all three men in their first competitive biathlon since last March. “All three men shot well today, and had good efforts on the tracks. It was good to see how we stack up at this early part of the year against the Swedish team who have some of the best biathletes in the World Cup.”
Teela, who used a new rifle stock for the first time this week, was satisfied with his shooting. “I really do not take these summer competitions as seriously as some of the athletes. Nevertheless, they are a good marker to see how the training has gone so far. I have adjusted to my new stock pretty quickly. It still needs some adjustments, but it is good. I am probably not as far along with my shooting overall as some, but I feel like I am on track.”
Jonsson Back on Top
In the Women’s 7.5K Sprint, order was restored with hometown favorite Helena Jonsson and Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek in the top two spots. Jonsson, the reigning Overall World Cup Champion won in 23:43.3, with Olympic Champion Olofsson-Zidek 17.3 seconds back. Jonsson’s victory prospects did not very good after missing two prone shots, while Olofsson-Zidek and cross-country winner Sofia Domeij each left the shooting range with single penalties and Liv Kjersti Eikeland of Norway shot clean.
However, these three women all missed two standing shots while Jonsson missed one. Given this opportunity, Jonsson flew around the penalty loop and the final 2.5K to claim victory. Olofsson-Zidek held second with Eikeland 20.3 seconds back, just 2.3 seconds ahead of Domeij. Haley Johnson of the US finished ninth, with four penalties, 2:38 back.
Sharpshooting Ferry and Jonsson Take Sunday Pursuit Competitions
Helena Jonsson started the today’s 10K Pursuit competition at the IBU Biathlon Rollerski Cup in Östersund, with a 17-second buffer between her and Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek. However, by the finish, the gap had increased to 1:46.4 and Östersund’s favorite daughter had won both of the weekend’s biathlon competitions over her illustrious teammate.
Perfect Day in Östersund
Jonsson skied well on a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon of bright sun and a light breeze at the Östersund Ski stadium, but also was in mid-season form on the shooting range, recording just two penalties. Olofsson-Zidek skied well, but three penalties in the first prone stage gave her little chance of catching Jonsson. Over the three final stages, she added two more penalties, giving her five for the day. Liv Kjersti Eikeland again stopped a Swedish sweep by taking third on a strong skiing performance. The Norwegian had seven penalties, but looked strong on the tracks from a summer of training under the guidance of Wolfgang Pichler. She held off Sweden’s Anna Maria Nilsson, with four penalties, for the third podium spot.
Ferry Jumps For Joy
Bjorn Ferry was so happy after his victory in the Men’s 12.5K Pursuit competition that he jumped for joy. Ferry is known as an unpredictable character, so his antics seemed normal. However, his win was surprising because Carl Johan Bergman had dominated everyone in the field including Ferry in the two previous competitions this weekend.
Today, Ferry was not to be denied the win. Like Helena Jonsson, he missed only two shots, one in the second prone stage and another in the final standing stage. Bergman lost his 11-second gap on Ferry in the first two prone stages, when he accrued three penalties and slipped back in the field. He eventually finished seventh. Second place went to surprising Fredrik Lindström, who despite six penalties held off Mattias Nilsson Jr., for second place. Nilsson, who started just 2 seconds back, had eight penalties.
Bailey Battles Eckholm to finish Fifth
David Eckholm of Sweden and Lowell Bailey had a spirited battle for fourth place, with Eckholm getting just ahead of the American at the finish line. Bailey had four penalties today, giving him a shooting percentage over 80% for the weekend. After his outstanding Sprint, Burke slipped back to ninth with five penalties, with Teela on his heels in tenth, with six penalties.
Commenting on the weekend competitions, Nilsson added, “Our shooting was better this year than in recent years. Lowell was over 80% and Tim was near 80%. It is good training to have the athletes in a highly competitive Pursuit at this time of the year. They all responded well. These competitions are strictly for training and we are working on technique and many other things. We will continue with another week of hard training, before a day off on Friday and laboratory testing next Saturday.”
He continued, “The ski times in some of these competitions are not necessarily representative of the athlete’s conditioning. The roller skis are supposed to be evenly matched, but we found that there was a big discrepancy in the various pairs (which are drawn by lottery for the competitions). In the Sprint, Tim had a very fast pair and did not get a fast one today. The same went for the Swedish Team. Bergman had a super pair in the cross-country and with a slower pair barely won the Sprint. The coaches all discussed these with the organizers after the competitions, so they were aware of the problem. Still this was a very good early season training weekend for us.”