The final event of the IBU World Cup in Östersund, Sweden, Sunday’s 10-kilometer women’s pursuit, was decided under clear skies with calm winds. And it came down to the final leg, when Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen made her move, beating four other women to the finish to win ahead of Italy’s Dorothea Wierer by 1.9 seconds in 30:45.1, with two penalties (1+0+1+0).
Wierer had one penalty in the first standing stage, while Germany’s Franziska Hildebrand had no penalties and took third (+3.3). Fourth place was nearly 10 seconds back, as Marie Dorin Habert of France came in 12.5 seconds behind Mäkäräinen, barely edging the Czech phenom Gabriela Soukalova, who took fifth (+12.8). Habert and Soukalova had three and two penalties, respectively.
Canada’s Rosanna Crawford was the top North American, started 22nd and finished 23rd (+2:40.9) with five penalties (1+2+1+1). In a post-race email, she wrote that she felt good on skis, but that she couldn’t be happy with the way she raced due to imperfect shooting.
“My hits were centre and misses off,” she wrote. “So just didn’t have the focus for prone. I’ll work on my shooting next week, to get that confidence back.”
The top American was Clare Egan, who finished a career-best 16th in the Saturday’s sprint. On Sunday, she finished 45th and cited fatigue, finishing 4:01.6 behind the winner with five penalties (+1+2+1+1).
“I definitely did not have the same energy on course today as I had in the previous races here in Ostersund,” Egan wrote in an email. “The first three races took a lot out of me mentally, and physically I really struggled to eat enough this week with the odd training and racing times so I was running on empty.”
In her second season of international racing, the 28-year-old Egan explained that she is still adapting to being on the World Cup, saying that she has learned a lot this week.
“Part of the challenge at this level is figuring out how to push your body and mind through four races in one week — and then do it again the next week,” she added. “Overall I am thrilled about how this week went, and I’m looking forward to resting, recovering, and racing again!”
The only other American to qualify for the women’s pursuit was Annelies Cook, who finished 53rd (+4:32.8) after two clean prone stages followed by three misses in each of her standing stages.
“Today was a textbook example of a biathlon meltdown,” Cook wrote in an email. “Things were going really well in the first half. Although I was definitely tired in my body after a hard week of races, I felt comfortable with the group of athletes I was around.”
At first she succeeded, she explained, and moved up 10 places after cleaning both prone stages.
“I had a total mental fail in standing and eventually missed 6 total,” Cook wrote. “I tried not to let the first three bother me, but the penalty loop was icy and really hard to go around with any speed and so it did bother me a bit.”
She tried to pull it together.
“I was just tense and not able to follow a good rhythm. It was a big bummer and I fought hard to the finish. But it does take some spunk out of your legs when you mess up like that,” she wrote.
Four Canadian women qualified for the pursuit, with Megan Tandy starting 46th and finishing 25th (+2:42.9) after three-straight clean stages and one miss in the final standing. Julia Ransom started 32nd and placed 36th (+3:34.0), with four penalties (2+0+2+0), and Zina Kocher placed 51st (+4:27.5) after starting 27th and ending up with seven penalties (1+0+3+3).
The World Cup resumes on Friday, Dec. 11, in Hochfilzen, Austria, with men’s and women’s sprints.