The Italian women stole the party at the Norwegian season opener at Sjusjøen Saturday, securing two of the three podium spots including the victory.
Dorothea Wierer from Italy won the sprint in 23:11, with 37.7 seconds to spare to Tiril Kampenhaug Eckhoff (NOR), while Karin Oberhofer from Italy was third. Wierer didn’t miss a single target. Eckhoff missed two on her second stop at the range after shooting clean the first time. Oberhofer was 1:02.9 behind Wierer.
“I’m super content with my race today. I didn’t at all expect to win. But I felt like my shooting was solid and that my fitness is where it should be,” Wierer said to Norwegian TV station NRK after the race.
Wierer is a former World Junior Champion who has been showing increased focus and talent at the senior level, and hit the World Cup podium for the first time last season. She hopes to build on that.
“Doing well at the beginning of the season means a lot for my confidence and now I’m really looking forward to the World Cup opener in Östersund [Sweden] in two weeks,” Wierer said.
Wierer added that she’s proud of the entire Italian squad, which held its own against the likes of Norway and France; one German competed, as well as many traditionally less-dominant teams.
“We put three girls in the top 10. That’s huge for us. We’ve trained hard and that we do well as a team at the season opener means a lot for our entire team,” she said.
For the Norwegians, there were World Cup spots on the line at the season opener at Sjusjøen. Veterans Ann Kristin Flatland and Tora Berger retired at the end of last season, leaving the roster fairly open for the World Cup.
In fact, Berger announced on-air that she is pregnant. Her baby is due in April.
Eckhoff is clearly the best Norwegian skier at the moment, while several of the preselected national team racers missed both prone and standing despite near perfect wind conditions and good visibility. Nonetheless Norway flooded the top ten, with Marte Olsbu, Elise Ringen, and Kaia Wøien Nicolaisen sweeping spots 4-6 and Fanny Welle-Strand Horn placing eighth.
Tomorrow the season opener at Sjusjøen continues with mass starts for both men and women.
Top 3 women’s sprint
1. Dorothea Wierer, ITA, 23:11 (0-0)
2. Tiril Eckhoff, NOR, 23:48.7 (0-2)
3. Karin Oberhofer, ITA, 24:13.9 (0-1)