Martin Fourcade and Laura Dahlmeier: each secured some sort of crystal globe today, in recognition of their season-long consistency on the biathlon World Cup.
But in the 12.5 kilometer and 10 kilometer pursuits in Kontiolahti, Finland, their approaches to those globes were very different.
Fourcade, the French athlete who had already secured the season-long Total Score title, was looking to also pick up the ‘small crystal globe’ for pursuit competitions. He has won many season titles already, and many competitions this season, but wanted to clinch this title with another win.
Instead, he missed four shots, collided on the shooting range with Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen, and finished fifth.
“You know, I won the last six pursuits, so I expected to win this globe with a better competition [today],” Fourcade told the IBU. “This is how it is, when you win a lot you are always looking forward to a perfect competition and beautiful victories. Today I am a bit disappointed.”
Capitalizing on Fourcade’s errors were a group of chasers, among whom Arnd Peiffer of Germany managed to shoot 20-for-20. The race came down to a sprint finish between him and Simon Eder of Austria; Peiffer took a 0.3-second win for his eighth career victory. Svendsen finished third, +2.3 seconds.
While Fourcade expected a win and a title, Dahlmeier, on the other hand, was surprised to clinch the ‘big crystal globe’: the Total Score. The German had been carefully not paying attention to the point differentials between her and rival Gabriela Koukalova of the Czech Republic.
But with a victory in the 10 k pursuit, she’s now mathematically guaranteed the globe. She was told live on television. It is her first overall title.
“This makes me really speechless,” she told Germany’s ARD broadcaster. “I think I first stood on skis at the age of two… I have invested a lot, I trained very very much, I was outside a lot always thinking about that big goal, and that was to some day win the overall World Cup. That just defines the most complete athlete over a whole season to be in front in that ranking. And that I now managed to do that, at 23 years of age, that is just impressive. I would like to say thanks to many many people who have accompanied me on this path.”
Dahlmeier won by 16.5 seconds over France’s Marie Dorin Habert, with Italy’s Lisa Vittozi third (+19.9).
Susan Dunklee started the day in fifth after a strong sprint race, but missed four shots over the course of the race and ended up 14th (+1:02.8).
“We had deceptively tricky wind,” the American wrote in an email. “I got very lucky on the first stage to hit them all. The wind looked stronger so I took clicks, but really it was coming from behind and not pushing the bullets to the side like I thought. All my shots landed in a tight group on the edge of the target. My second prone felt unsettled and was a much larger group. Plus the wind was a challenge- the flags were swirling around in several different directions. My standing stages felt normal and I executed them well.”
That brought an end to the streak of three consecutive fifth-place finishes, but Dunklee – who is currently tenth in the World Cup Total Score – wasn’t fazed.
“I did make a few mistakes, but today is still a race I can feel good about,” she wrote. “I stayed focused on the present moment, I skied smart, and I dug deep.”
Teammates Clare Egan and Joanne Reid finished 45th (+3:24.7) and 52nd (+4:07.0), respectively.
The top American finish in the men’s 12.5 k pursuit came from Sean Doherty, who shot 20 for 20 and moved from 44th all the way up to 18th place.
“It’s my first time cleaning a four-stage race, so I’m pretty excited about that,” Doherty said in a phone interview from Kontiolahti.
Unlike Dunklee, Doherty assessed the shooting range as calm. After shooting 90% in the sprint, he was focused on the shooting process and keeping his positive momentum going.
“I have been struggling a bit with shooting lately,” he said. “I kept the same focus on the same things I have been working on the last week since we got here. I really wasn’t thinking it would turn out like it did. I was just going for it and wanted to see where that got me.”
Lowell Bailey finished 27th (+1:57.2) and Leif Nordgren 43rd (+3:24.4) with three and four penalties, respectively.
For Canada, Christian Gow picked up just one penalty and a 37th-place finish (+2:36.0), a big improvement from his 50th-place starting position. Brendan Green placed 50th with three penalties (+4:47.3). Julia Ransom finished 53rd in the 10 k pursuit with three penalties (+4:14.0) and Emma Lunder 58th with four missed shots (+6:20.7).
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Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.