Biathlon World Championships: Dream Day for Germany, Lunder 11th

Clare EganFebruary 10, 2023
Denise Herrmann-Wick (GER) shooting from the standing position at the IBU World Championships Sprint in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Biathlon fans anticipated that the women’s 7.5km Sprint would be one of the most tightly-contested races of the BMW IBU World Championships, and it did not disappoint. In the end, only 2.2 seconds separated the new World Champion, Denise Herrmann-Wick of Germany, from the silver medalist, Hanna Oeberg of Sweden. Oeberg’s teammate, Linn Persson, finished third. These athletes will start at the front of Sunday’s 60-person Pursuit and try to stave off the chasers for another chance at a World Championship medal.

Hanna Oeberg (SWE) leaving the range in the lead of the IBU World Championships Sprint in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Fourteen women from seven nations have landed on the podium this winter. But among all those contenders, arguably no one had more pressure on them today than hometown favorite, Denise Herrmann-Wick. Ranked first in the World Cup Sprint standings, the 34-year-old revealed in Wednesday’s Mixed Relay that she has peaked perfectly for these races. Even with nine out ten hits, Herrmann-Wick is skiing fast enough that she could have a chance at a podium finish, but today she left nothing chance. Unfazed by tens of thousands of spectators cheering in unison after each shot, Herrmann-Wick steadily cleared ten out of ten targets. One word came to mind: impressive.

But the race wasn’t over. A few minutes later, Hanna Oeberg of Sweden managed the same perfect shooting, leaving the range for the final 2.5km loop with a nine second advantage over Herrmann-Wick. A hush of collective anxiety came over the full stadium of German fans. By the top of Oberhof’s signature Birxsteig climb, Oeberg’s advantage had dwindled to a near tie. It wasn’t until the final meters of the race, when Oeberg’s time ticked above Herrmann-Wick’s winning mark of 21:19.7, that the Thuringen Arena burst into cheers.

Denise Herrmann-Wick (GER) celebrates after winning the IBU World Championships Sprint in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

The battle for gold was not limited to those two athletes. Wearing bib number two, Anamarija Lampic of Slovenia cleaned her prone targets, leaving the audience wondering if today might be the day for the former cross-country skier to break onto her first podium. But that kind of biathlon magic wasn’t to be; Lampic’s inexperience came through when she missed four targets in standing. With the 17th-ranked course time, she narrowly managed to qualify for Sunday’s Pursuit in 58th. It was Lampic’s teammate, Polona Klemencic, who stepped up and shined for Slovenia with the perfect shooting score to take her first career top-10 in 8th place.

Ingrid Tandrevold of Norway led the race after Shooting 1, showing once again that her ski speed and prone shooting skills are there. But the standing shooting slump which has been bothering her since January persisted and she missed two on her way to a 14th place finish. Lisa Vittozzi of Italy missed just one in standing but skied fast enough to briefly take the lead from Marketa Davidova of Czech Republic, who had hit 100% as she so often does in championship races.

The defending Olympic Champion in the Sprint, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, was sitting way back in 26th after missing one in prone, but with a clean standing bout and the second-ranked course time, she pulled her way back to fourth, just five seconds shy of the bronze medal. She’ll be motivated for more in the Pursuit. The World Cup Overall leader, Julia Simon, was well on her way to a podium finish with eight hits before she missed the last two. Simon thrives in head-to-head races and will be a threat in the Pursuit even starting 1:02 back in 10th place.

Emma Lunder (CAN) following Marte Olsbu Roiseland (NOR) in the IBU World Championships Sprint in Oberhof, Germany, where they finished 11th and 4th, respectively. (Photo: NordicFocus).

Less than one second behind Simon, Emma Lunder of Canada posted her best-ever Championship result in 11th. After a season-best ski performance on Wednesday in the Mixed Relay, Lunder knew anything was possible in today’s Sprint. “I was a bag of nerves,” she said. “I was more nervous for this than the Olympics, because I knew I had a chance.” Once she started, her good preparation kicked in and with a clear mind she executed to near perfection, with just one prone miss and a top-15 course time. Lunder attributes her excellent shape to staying healthy. She hasn’t been sick since last year’s Olympics, so she has been able to train continuously and make steady gains. She also credited her ski technicians for fast skis. In Sunday’s Pursuit, only 1:03 will separate Emma from Herrmann-Wick. To the podium, it’s just 37 seconds.

Nadia Moser (CAN) on her way to 48th in the IBU World Championships Sprint in Oberhof, Germany. Photo: (NordicFocus)

Two other North Americans qualified for the Pursuit. Nadia Moser (CAN) finished 48th with one penalty, and Deedra Irwin (USA) finished 55th with two. “I’ve barely trained for the last two weeks,” said Irwin after the race, referencing a sickness she came down with in January which required a round of antibiotics. “And this course is so hard. The headwind on that straightaway was brutal.” Some athletes were luckier than others, finding themselves in position to draft for the 500m windy straightaway approach to the range. Lunder put in a hard sprint to catch someone there. Chloe Levins, the second American today in 73rd, was alone every time on that section, but she performed well on the range, hitting nine of ten.

Joanne Reid (USA) shot clean in prone but suffered three penalties in standing to finish 75th. Competing in her first biathlon World Championships race, former Nordic Combined athlete Tara Geraghty-Moats (USA) similarly cleaned prone but struggled in standing, missing four to finish 86th. Canada’s Benita Peiffer rounded out their squad, missing five to finish 93rd.

Chloe Levins (USA) hit nine out of ten to finish 73rd in the IBU World Championships Sprint in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

The women will be back in action on Sunday, but first it’s the men’s sprint, Saturday at 8:30AM Eastern Time.

IBU World Championships Women’s Sprint RESULTS

Coming Up Next:

Men’s Sprint at 8:30AM Eastern Time.

Women’s Pursuit at 7:25AM Eastern Time.
Men’s Pursuit at 9:30AM Eastern Time.


IBU World Championships women’s Sprint podium: Denise Herrmann-Wick (GER) in first, Hanna Oeberg SWE) in second at left, and Linn Persson (SWE) in third. Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Clare Egan

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