Ruhpolding Video Course Tour
|02.03.2012, Ruhpolding / IBU Info JK|
|Women’s Sprint Preview|
|The courses in Ruhpolding for these 2012 IBU World Championships have been modified since last year’s World Cup; made a bit “more comfortable” according to IBU Assistant RD World Cup Borut Nunar, who skied the over the 2.5K yesterday morning.
Yet, as the women’s 7.5K sprint approaches on Saturday at 15:30 CET, whether the course is comfortable or uncomfortable matters little to the overwhelming favorite; Magdalena Neuner of Germany. With very soft conditions in Thursday’s mixed relay, the German star skied as effortlessly as ever. Hard or soft snow, cold or warm conditions, little seems to bother her this season. After the mixed relay, she said, “…It was deep in places, but the same for everyone.”
Queen of the Sprint
Neuner is the Queen of the Sprint right now. She has won six of the eight competitions so far this season. In the other two, she placed third and fourth. Her performance in the mixed relay showed that she remains in top form and ready to end her biathlon career with another armload of medals. In the nineteen competitions so far, Neuner has been on the podium fifteen times and she did not start once in Oslo. Her success rate in all competitions not just the sprint is astounding. Hence going into the sprint, it is up to the rest of the field to dethrone her or continue to live in her massive shadow.
Heart of a Champion
Beyond Neuner, there are few women who have been able to challenge her. In fact the group of top women is much smaller than in the men’s field. Belarusian Darya Domracheva is Neuner’s closest rival, with 12 podiums so far, including three wins. She is second at this point to the German in the World Cup total Score and the sprint standings. Domracheva is fast and powerful on the tracks, but her chances of winning depend on a perfect or near perfect shooting day and a potential Neuner mistake. Shooting penalties have cost Domracheva a win several times this year, yet she always finds a way to get on the podium. She admitted recently “that I create my own problems.” Still, she has the heart of a champion and lives by her motto of “never give up.” This will probably be one of the most anticipated matchups of these Championships. Every time these two line up, fireworks and excitement always follow.
Zaitseva, Mäkäräinen and Berger
Olga Zaitseva won the two sprints that Neuner did not. She has been extremely effective on the shooting range, but at times her speed has been just one notch behind Neuner, Domracheva and Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen. Mäkäräinen, last year’s Total Score winner is in third position this year. Despite her big success last year, this still has been a good year for her. She has the speed and shooting skill to pop onto the podium any day. She has won twice this season and been on the podium seven times. Tora Berger of Norway is the one other potential winner, especially after her dominating performance in the mixed relay. Berger, again is strong and fast on the tracks, but at times, seems to lose her way on the shooting range and spoils her chance of a good result.
Those five are the dominant women going into this sprint and the Championships overall. Of course there always are some surprises as seen in the mixed relay. There will be more to come, but in after tomorrow’s sprint, there is a very good chance that Magdalena Neuner will remain Queen of the Sprint.
“Ruhpolding Video Course Tour” follows.