With World Cup Pursuit Victory, Tora Berger Gives Family Three Wins in Three Days

Chelsea LittleJanuary 17, 2011
Berger and Henkel early in the race.

Tora Berger of Norway led Sunday’s 10 k World Cup pursuit in Ruhpolding, Germany, from start to finish, winning easily despite missing a shot in the final standing stage.

Her victory gave the family three wins in as many days: brother Lars won the men’s 10 k sprint on Friday, and Tora eked out a 1.1 second victory in the women’s 7.5 k sprint on Saturday.

Early in the race it appeared that Andrea Henkel of Germany, who wore bib 2, would give Berger a run for her money. The pair skied together for two loops and both cleaned the prone stages. However, Henkel missed a shot in the first standing stage, giving Berger a sizeable lead.

“[Berger] is especially good in duel shooting,” said Norwegian biathlon analyst and seven-time World Champion Liv Grete Poiree on NRK news. “When she is going to shoot, it’s like she shuts everything out.”

Henkel: the overall title is in sight.

The pressure was too much for Henkel, who missed one more shot in the second standing stage but still secured second place easily. It was her third second-place finish of the weekend, and she is now ranked third in the overall World Cup standings.

Overall World Cup leader Kaisa Makarainen of Finland used clean standing shooting and aggressive skiing on the final loop to pass Sweden’s Anna Carin Zidek and finish third.

The American women were led by Laura Spector, who finished 41st. Spector, starting with bib 36, had moved up to 31st position after the first shooting stage, but fell back as the race progressed.

“I had some good shooting through the first three stages and was able to move up little by little,” she told FasterSkier. “I don’t think I was skiing as well as I normally do because I had trouble in some places making up time on the tracks. I missed two shots in the last stage and that’s what really put me out of the points (top 40).”

Sara Studebaker finished fifteen seconds behind in 43rd; both women had three penalties overall.

Haley Johnson, in just her third World Cup of the season, had a tough shooting day. She missed seven shots, the most of anyone in the field, but had the 37th-fastest ski time, better than either Spector or Studebaker. Her legs allowed her to finish 50th despite a disastrous day on the range.

“I don’t take any race for granted and even though today I didn’t shoot well, I skied well and held on the best I could,” Johnson said in an e-mail. “I only made one pursuit last year, so to do it right off the bat, I was more than happy to be on the startline today. It feels right to be back on the World Cup.”

Canadians Zina Kocher and Rosanna Crawford finished 52nd and 58th.

For Crawford, whose sister is skier and Olympic gold medalist Chandra Crawford, it was the first time she had finished a World Cup pursuit. Crawford qualified for the pursuit in Kontiolahti, Finland last season, but was lapped and pulled from the race.

“Pursuits are always fun and I am happy to have one under my belt finally, but I left some room for improvement on the shooting side,” Crawford told FasterSkier. “Ruhpolding has been my good luck charm: I competed in my first World Youth and Junior Championships there, my first World Cup, and now I completed my first World Cup pursuit.”

The Canadians will forgo next week’s World Cup races in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy, and instead return to North America to prepare for the February World Cups in Fort Kent and Presque Isle, Maine.

“We fly home tomorrow, and I am really excited to get some Canmore sunshine!” Crawford said.

The Americans will continue their European tour, and racing in Italy begins on Thursday.

Full Results

Chelsea Little

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