Before this weekend, Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen had never won a World Cup biathlon race.
How things change.
After winning Friday’s sprint race by eighteen seconds, then extending that lead to almost a minute and a half in Sunday’s pursuit race, Makarainen will have a target on her back when the World Cup heads to Hochfilzen, Austria, next weekend.
Makarainen was the first woman out of the starting gate and never looked back, shooting clean through four stages and extending her lead on each of the two-kilometer loops until the last one, when she allowed Miriam Gossner of Germany to claw back twenty seconds. But her lead was insurmountable at that point, and Gossner’s acceleration was more to secure second place over Helena Ekholm of Sweden than to close on Makarainen.
Gossner, who started the pursuit in second place, had the fastest course time of the day, but missed three shots. After the second loop, she had dropped to third place behind Ekholm. However, her speed on skis was superior and despite the fact that both she and Ekholm missed a shot in the last standing stage, Gossner was still able to ski to second place relatively easily, finishing fifteen seconds ahead of the Swede.
Anna Carin Zidek, the winner of Wednesday’s individual competition, finished fourth, just seven seconds behind her teammate. Zidek started in ninth position, but almost immediately gained several places and only missed one shot out of twenty. But her fourth-place finish wasn’t enough to keep her from losing the yellow overall leader’s bib, which will now be worn by Makarainen.
No North American women competed today, as neither the Americans nor the Canadians finished in the top 60 in Friday’s sprint competition.