Hanna Oeberg of Sweden Claims Women’s Mass Start Title, Lunder 7th

Clare EganFebruary 21, 2023


The start of the 12.5 k Women’s Mass Start at the Biathlon World Championships in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

On the final day of the 2023 Biathlon World Championships in Oberhof, Germany, the top thirty women in the world took to the course for the 12.5 k Mass Start. For some, it was the seventh race in twelve days. Under steady rain, the top fifteen athletes from the World Cup Overall standings plus the medalists and other athletes with the most cumulative points from the World Championships Sprint, Pursuit, and Individual races battled through four shooting stages and five laps up the Birxsteig climb. Of the thirty women on the start list, 11 had won a race, 19 had been on a podium, and a couple others had a personal best of fourth, including Emma Lunder of Canada.

Thirty competitors head out on the first of five 2.5 k laps in the Women’s Mass Start at Biathlon World Championships in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

The race was wide open, but eventually three familiar faces filtered to the top. After Sebastian Samuelsson and Martin Ponsiluoma unexpectedly swept gold and silver for Sweden in the morning’s Men’s Mass Start, Hanna Oeberg made it a Swedish double, winning the Women’s Mass Start by just a few seconds over Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold of Norway and Julia Simon of France. While there was little doubt that the name “Oeberg” would be at the top of the results sheet at these Championships, most people would have bet on Hanna’s younger sister, Elvira, who is ranked second in the World Cup Overall behind Simon. Unfortunately, Elvira got sick at the beginning of the Championships and only raced the Sprint and Women’s Relay. Hanna, ranked tenth in the Overall, stepped up in a big way to win both the 15km Individual and the Mass Start, becoming the only woman at these Championships to win two individual titles.

Wearing bib 11 in the Mass Start, Anais Chevalier-Bouchet (FRA) shot clean through the first three stages and led most of the race. (Photo: NordicFocus)

The Mass Start was tight from start to finish. At the first shooting stage, 20 out of 30 competitors shot clean and left the range within 15 seconds of one another. Oeberg and Simon both missed one and left the range together in 21st and 22nd. As Anais Chevalier of France set the pace at the front, Oeberg and Simon skied the fastest second loop to reconnect with the lead pack before the second shooting. At Shooting 2 Chevalier stayed clear but Oeberg and Simon both missed again, this time joined by Tandrevold and Lunder. None of the them were able to reach the lead pack before the third shooting, but they were all well within striking distance. Approaching Shooting 3, the top 21 women were all within 30 seconds.

Julia Simon (FRA) standing on Lane 1 for Shooting 4 during the Women’s Mass Start at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

As is often the case, Shooting 3—the first of two standing stages in the Mass Start—proved decisive. Chevalier, Simon, Oeberg, and Tandrevold all cleaned and took places one through four at the front of the race. Lunder missed once more and found herself in 17th with a 50-second deficit. Simon and Chevalier pulled into the final shooting together, with Tandrevold and Oeberg following 16 seconds later. The two French women incurred one miss each, leaving the door open for the Scandinavian chasers. Both Oeberg and Tandrevold capitalized on the moment, hitting five for five! Oeberg led out of the range with Tandrevold four seconds behind. Simon and Chevalier exited the penalty loop together another four seconds behind Tandrevold. The chase was on. Lunder cleaned her last stage as well, jumping from 17th to seventh.

Hanna Oeberg (SWE) celebrates her victory as she crosses the finish line in the Women’s Mass Start at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Over a grueling last 2.5 k loop, Simon caught Tandrevold, but then Tandrevold put in a hard push on the last climb and dropped Simon, coming within seconds of Oeberg. But Oeberg didn’t give an inch to Tandrevold, matching her course time over the last loop down to the tenth of a second. With a strong finish, Oeberg claimed her fourth medal and second individual gold of these Championships. Tandrevold collapsed in tears of joy at the finish. Having struggled mightily from the standing position during these Championships, hitting a miserable 60%, she made a total turnaround in the Mass Start, hitting 10/10 in standing to capture the silver medal. Simon comfortably held off Chevalier to claim the bronze.

Emma Lunder (CAN) leads a pack of eight people into the finish lanes in a fight for sixth place. Marketa Davidova (CZE), blurred in the foreground, catches her breath after claiming fifth thanks to a fast last loop. (Photo: NordicFocus)

Behind Chevalier, the race for the last two places in the top-six Flower Ceremony was even more intense. Only twelve seconds separated places five through thirteen. Samuela Comola (ITA) left the range in fifth, having added another 20 hits to her now 50-shot streak. She was hunted down by Marketa Davidova (CZE), Dorothea Wierer (ITA), Emma Lunder (CAN), and Karoline Knotten (NOR), who all had one or two misses and were skiing faster than Comola. Davidova made an early move and passed Comola to secure fifth. With less than 1 k to go, Lunder and Knotten dropped Wierer, and with Lunder pushing the pace, the two caught and passed Comola just before the finishing lanes. In a photo finish, Knotten out-lunged Lunder to take sixth by one tenth of a second. Just behind them, six athletes more crossed within three seconds.

Wearing bib 28, Karoline Knotten (NOR) out-lunges Emma Lunder of Canada to take sixth in the Mass Start at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

With the conclusion of the Mass Starts, the 2023 Biathlon World Championships have come to a close. Biathletes now have one week to rest before they head to Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic for the first of three World Cup stages in the final trimester of competition.

Biathlon World Championships Women’s Mass Start RESULTS

Clare Egan

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