After Wednesday afternoon’s scheduled start to the women’s 15km individual race was postponed due to sudden sleet and high winds, conditions had improved enough by Thursday at 1:30 (CET) to allow the competition to proceed without a hitch on a day characterized by fast snow and gusty winds.
The competition went especially smoothly for winner, and four-time World Cup winner last season, Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic, who skied her way to victory after two penalties in four stages and a time of 47:56. In second place, Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia (whom FasterSkier recently interviewed) cleaned her first stage, received two penalties in her second stage, then cleaned the final two stages to briefly earn the lead before being edged by Soukalova by 1.2 seconds. Marie Laure Brunet, of France, had the most solid shooting of those to make the podium with only one miss on the final stage, 16.2 seconds behind Soukalova. Indeed, skiing seems to have won the day as the only athlete to clean all four stages was Kadri Lehtla of Estonia, who finished 15th.
It is difficult to fault today’s 20km men’s individual winner Martin Fourcade of France, who shot perfectly and skied fast to take first place in 50:10.9 and by a margin of over two minutes. It was also a good day for Austria with Simon Eder finishing in second place in 52:17 with just one penalty on the last stage and teammate Daniel Metotitsch finishing third in 52:31.1 with one penalty on the first stage. Canada’s JP Le Guellec had an exciting day with a fourth place finish 52:42.2 with one penalty, 2:31.3 behind first place Fourcade. Good conditions were reported on the course, in spite of some swirling winds shooters had to contend with.
The top woman from North America was Canada’s Rosanna Crawford in 48th place with a time of 53:07.6 and five penalties, 5:11 behind first place. The first American was Annelies Cook in 53:29.7, in 50th place with a total of five penalties. “On a day like today it’s hard to be happy with your shooting,” wrote Crawford in an email to FasterSkier, “but you need to keep it in perspective. It was a bit of a lottery if you would get calm or gusting winds.” Crawford noted that the average shooting for the field was well below normal.
Zina Kocher was the second Canadian in 70th with eight penalties; she had the 23rd-fastest ski time. The third Canadian, Megan Heinicke, who was 77th overall in 56:25.2 with nine penalties, said in an email that it was her worst shooting she could remember in the last 5 years, but noted that she was happy with her ski performance, which was the 32nd-fastest in the field. Teammate Megan Imrie placed 85th with nine penalties.
For the U.S., Susan Dunklee placed 58th with seven penalties, Hannah Dreissigacker finished 80th with eight penalties, and Sara Studebaker was 83rd with seven penalties.
Nathan Smith, also of Canada, was the second North American man coming in 16th with a time of 53:56.2 and three penalties. Lowell Bailey was the top American finishing 19th in 54:08.8 with 2 penalties. Bailey reported low expectations headed into the competition due to a significantly smaller amount of time training on snow compared to other countries, but was pleased to have gotten in a solid performance. “I’m happy to be in the mix,” he said.
Scott Perras was the final Canadian, placing 81st with seven penalties. For the U.S., Tim Burke was 60th with six penalties, Jeremy Teela 76th with five penalties, and Leif Nordgren 83rd with 6 penalties.