Ever since Hanna Oeberg burst onto the podium for the first time, winning Olympic gold in the 15km Individual at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, she has been a consistent force in the event. She defended her title at the 2019 World Championships, just missed the podium in fourth in 2020, and took silver in 2021. After faltering slightly in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing with a 16th place finish, Oeberg came back today to win her third Championship-level gold, in spite of one miss. Oeberg’s teammate, Linn Persson, shot 20/20 for the silver medal, and Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi missed only her last shot to finish third.
Dorothea Wierer (ITA) was an early leader, wearing bib four and missing only once in the first three stages. But disaster struck on the final stage when she missed three, sending her three minutes down in the results. A few minutes later wearing bib 11, Wierer’s Italian teammate Lisa Vittozzi came through in the lead, having shot 15/15 in the first three stages. Vittozzi was fifth in last Friday’s Sprint but then came down with a cold on Saturday and had to skip the Pursuit. Despite returning from illness, she managed to ski the sixth-fastest course time today and carried a big lead into the final shooting stage. She hit the first four shots but then missed the last, opening up a door for Linn Persson of Sweden. Persson also shot clean through the first three stages and was holding Vittozzi’s pace; the two were separated by only .6 after Shooting 3. Persson hit the perfect 20/20 to take the lead, leaving the range with a huge smile on her face.
Persson crossed the finish line in first place, but her teammate Hanna Oeberg was chasing her down. With one miss in the first stage but then clean shooting for the rest of the race, Oeberg left the range after the final stage with a 14-second deficit to clean-shooting Persson. Knowing that the gold medal was on the line, Oeberg outskied Persson by nearly 25 seconds over the last three-kilometer loop to claim the World Championship title.
Persson was one of just three women to shoot the perfect score today. The others, Samuela Comola (ITA) and Suvi Minkkinen (FIN), both set new personal bests, finishing fourth and eighth, respectively. Joining Comola in the Flower Ceremony were World Cup Overall leader, Julia Simon of France in fifth, and Tuuli Tomingas of Estonia, whose sixth place finish is the highest ever for an Estonian woman at a World Championships.
From the USA, Deedra Irwin found her groove today. After sickness and tricky range conditions hampered her efforts in the Sprint and Pursuit, Irwin pulled together her best focus today to finish 20th—her third-best career result and best this season. Of 90 starters in today’s race, only three shot clean and only four hit 19/20; Irwin was one of them, missing one from the standing position in the second stage. “I’m just glad I was able to keep it together on the range,” said Irwin, who couldn’t train normally in the lead up to the Championships due to illness. “I feel flat, but it’s getting better every race.” Lucky for Irwin, she has two more races in the next three days to keep the positive momentum going. Irwin’s parents are supporting her on-site; they made the big trip from Wisconsin to see their first international biathlon races and are wearing Green Bay Packers gear with pride. Look for the cheesehead on the live stream!
Emma Lunder of Canada finished 20 seconds behind Irwin in 25th, in spite of three penalties. With 11th and 30th place finishes from the Sprint and Pursuit, Lunder has comfortably qualified for next Sunday’s Mass Start. In the two Mass Starts this winter she has finished 9th and 11th, and she is skiing faster now than she was earlier in the season so she has podium potential.
Nadia Moser of Canada finished 58th with five penalties. Joanne Reid skied just nine seconds slower than Irwin but had difficulty on the range, missing three in the first standing stage and six overall to finish 61st. In her World Championships debut, Kelsey Dickinson (USA) had excellent shooting, missing only two, but felt like she couldn’t push into her highest gear and ended up 67th. Right behind Dickinson was Chloe Levins (USA) who had a total of four misses and finished 68th. Also with four misses, Benita Peiffer of Canada was 69th.
Four races down, three to go!
IBU World Championships Women’s 15km Individual RESULTS
Thursday at 9:10AM Eastern Time: Single-Mixed Relay
Saturday at 5:45AM Eastern Time: Men’s 4 x 7.5k Relay
Saturday at 9:00AM Eastern Time: Women’s 4 x 6k Relay
Sunday at 6:30AM Eastern Time: Men’s 15k Mass Start
Sunday at 9:30AM Eastern Time: Women’s 12.5 Mass Start
Watch live here.