The traveling IBU World Cup roadshow stops in Pokljuka, Slovenia this week and began the individual races. The women’s 15 k individual ran on Friday. The individual race format places a heightened premium on clean shooting; each missed shot amounts to an automatic minute penalty.
Tiril Eckhoff of Norway had been dominating the circuit recently. Yet, Friday, she fell in the standings to place an uncharacteristic 18th. In first place was former German cross-country skier Denise Herrmann. It was Herrmann’s first win of the season and her second podium. She won in 41:33.4 with no misses on the range. Sweden’s Hannah Öberg was second (+59.2; 0+1+0+0) and France’s Anais Bescond third (+1:15.7; 0+0+0+0).
Two North Americans raced into the top-10. Clare Egan for the U.S. had a career-best race in the individual format with a sixth place. Egan shot clean and stopped the clock 2:10.4 back. Prior to Friday’s result, Egan’s best performance in the 15 k individual had been a 22nd at the 2017 World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria. Last weekend, Egan placed 16th in Ruhpolding, Germany’s 10 k pursuit. And at this same venue a bit over a year ago in Pokljuka, Egan placed sixth in the 10 k pursuit.
Post-race interview with Clare Egan
Emma Lunder of Canada finished in 10th, 3:06.8 back while shooting 1+0+0+0. This was Lunder’s second top-10 of the season. She placed 7th in Oberhof’s sprint. Both Lunder and Egan qualified for Sunday’s 12.5 k mass start competition. The top-25 women in the overall IBU standings auto-qualify. Egan and Lunder fell outside that criteria, but qualified due to their results in Friday’s individual race.
For the U.S., Joanne Reid was 45th (+6:11.3; 0+0+1+1), Susan Dunklee 55th (+7:04.2; 1+2+1+1), and Emily Dreissigacker 84th (+10:12.7; 1+0+1+2).
Canada’s Nadia Moser finished in 79th (+9:30.6; 1+2+0+1), Megan Bankes 80th (+9:46.2; 1+1+0+3), and Emily Dickson 83rd (+10:07.4; 1+1+1+1).
Men’s 20 k Individual
On Thursday in Pokljuka, Johannes Thingnes Bø, on leave from the race scene for the first part of racing during the second trimester to be home for the birth of his first child, was back in play. Last week, in the absence of the Norwegian phenom that is Bø, France’s Martin Fourcade reclaimed the World Cup’s overall yellow leader’s bib.
Fourcade’s leader status might be tenuous. The two superstars went 1-2 on Thursday with Bø taking the win in 47:54.3 with no misses. Fourcade finished second, 11.4 seconds back while also shooting clean. France’s Fabien Claude placed third (+25.6; 0+0+0+0).
For Canada, Scott Gow raced to 26th (+3:36.7; 0+1+0+1). Christian Gow was 41st (+5:20.0; 0+2+0+0), Jules Burnotte 88th (+8:39.1; 1+2+1+1), and Aidan Millar 107th (+13:27.7; 2+2+0+3).
Leif Nordgren was the top American in 27th. Nordgren finished 3:38.3 minutes back after shooting 1+1+0+0. Jake Brown placed 52nd (+5:54.9; 2+1+0+0), Sean Doherty 74th (+7:28.8; 1+0+1+3), and Paul Schommer 85th (+8:32.9; 2+0+0+2).
Racing continues in Pokljuka on Saturday with the single mixed relay and a 4 x 7.5 k mixed relay.