There’s one way to guarantee yourself a good result in a biathlon race: hit all the targets.
In the men’s 15 k mass start World Cup in Oslo, Russia’s Ivan Tcherezov was the only one of 30 starters to do so, and he won, by 26 seconds, over Austria’s Christoph Sumann and Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen.
From the first loop and first shooting stage, Tcherezov was in the hunt, ensconced in a big group and trailing only Svendsen, Simon Fourcade (FRA), Austria’s Daniel Mesotitsch, and Germany’s Arnd Peiffer.
By the end of his third clean shooting stage, he was alone—the nearest competitor was Germany’s Andreas Birnbacher, some 20 seconds back.
Tcherezov never blinked, and never gave his rivals a chance to get back in the race. He said he was struggling on his skis on the “very wet and soft” course, but since nobody else could muster fewer than two misses, the Russian skied to the line essentially unchallenged.
Sumann had a decent-sized gap over Svendsen, but the latter had to work for his podium place over Birnbacher—the only one collected by a Norwegian male this week. The two left the range for the last time with Birnbacher leading by a few seconds, but Svendsen managed to close the gap and pass the German before the finish to claim third by a few seconds.
Tim Burke (USA) was with the leaders through two shooting stages, then faltered with two misses in the third round and three in the fourth, ending up in 23rd, nearly two and a half minutes down.
He said the huge effort to stay with the leaders left him unsteady in the range.
“I skied with the group up front there, but that was completely out of my league,” he said. “I tried every tactic I had. Nothing worked. I was just too tired in my legs to really hit the targets….That was probably one of the worst standing shootings in my career.”
While the rest of the U.S. team heads home from Norway, Burke will travel to Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, for the final World Cup weekend. Currently 14th in the World Cup overall standings, he’ll be looking to maintain that position, or move up.
Canada’s Jean-Philippe Leguellec was one spot behind Burke in 24th, with two penalties.
Hauswald Hits the Triple
While Tcherezov demonstrated one way to win, Germany’s Simone Hauswald took her victory the hard way in the women’s 12.5 k.
Single penalties in each of her first two shooting stages put her more than thirty seconds off the lead, behind a train of her German teammates led by Andrea Henkel.
After the two misses, Hauswald said, “I kept my focus, knowing that the race is over after the third and fourth shooting [stages] are over.”
Hauswald is the fastest woman on the biathlon circuit right now, and even though there were a handful of her competitors who shot clean today, none of them could stop the German from winning her third race in a row. She cleaned both of her standing stages, wresting the race from Henkel after the latter had a miss in her last shooting round.
Hauswald held on to win by 15 seconds over Vita Semerenko (UKR) and 22 over Magdalena Neuner (GER).
“I cannot believe what I have done in the last three races,” she said. “Maybe it is the perfection of doing biathlon: body, mind, and soul together.”
Zina Kocher of Canada was the only American starter, and she had a nightmare day. Nine penalties left her just over seven minutes back.
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.