Two athletes, two races, four wins.
Saturday morning, Germany’s Simone Hauswald and France’s Martin Fourcade each took their second consecutive biathlon World Cup victory in Oslo, this time in the 10/12.5 k pursuit. Their results come after victories in Thursday’s sprint.
In the pursuit races, athletes start in the order of their finish in the sprint, so to have repeat winners wasn’t unprecedented.
In the women’s event, though, all three podium places were identical to Thursday’s, with Darya Domracheva (BEL) in second and Anna Olofsson-Zidek third.
Hauswald led from the start, beginning with a five second advantage over Domracheva. But two early misses set her more than thirty seconds behind the Belarussian, all the way back in fifth place.
“After the first prone I was not so satisfied,” Hauswald said. “But I had focus.”
Rather than buckling after losing her lead, Hauswald bore down, turning in a pair of blistering 2 k loops and clean shooting stages to close the gap to Domracheva as they came into the range for the last time.
Domracheva didn’t have any penalties in the first three stages, but she wasn’t skiing nearly as fast as Hauswald. The pair each had one penalty in their final shooting bout, and headed out onto the course together for their last loop.
Hauswald said she tried to drop Domracheva right away, but couldn’t shake her until close to the finish.
“Then I said, ‘okay, it is my race, and I will go to the king,’” she said, referring to the winner’s post-race ceremonial visit with Norway’s King Harald.
With just two penalties, Canada’s Zina Kocher moved her way up from 59th place all the way to 29th. Sara Studebaker, the only U.S. starter, was 50th, with four misses.
Fourcade edged podium newcomer Simon Schempp (Germany), making it a hat trick with his third consecutive World Cup win after his victory in last weekend’s final race in Finland.
The Frenchman, who headed out with a seven second lead, missed single shots on his first, second, and fourth stages. But despite the mistakes, almost nobody else in the field could challenge him—either due to poor shooting, or slow skiing.
Schempp was the only one who could capitalize, moving up from ninth place, 41 seconds back, to claw his way back to Fourcade. By the time the pair entered the range for the last time, the pair were separated by just 17 seconds.
When Fourcade missed his shot and Schempp cleaned, the race was even. But facing a Frenchman on a hotstreak, Schempp knew that some suffering was in store.
“When I left the stadium and he was so close, I though, ‘oh, s—t!” he said. “I wanted to win, but knew it was a very small chance.”
Fourcade didn’t waste any time, taking the lead early in the final loop and putting nearly ten seconds into Schempp by the finish.
“It feels so good…again, again, and again,” Fourcade said of his three wins in a row. “Never in my dreams, I hoped to do this.”
Russia’s Ivan Tcherezov bested Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) for third place in a photo finish, depriving the Norwegians of a podium position on their home course.
Tim Burke (USA) and Brendan Green (CAN) had a pair of pedestrian days, finishing 24th and 29th, each with three penalties.
Sunday’s 12.5/15 k mass start races wrap up the penultimate World Cup of the year in Oslo. The biathletes have one more week of racing, in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, before calling it quits for the season.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.