Gold for Tora Berger
|07.03.2012, Ruhpolding / IBU Inf. Dept. JK|
|Silver to Brunet, Bronze for Ekholm|
|Norway’s Tora Berger won the first individual World Championships Gold medal of her career by taking the 15K individual in 42:30 with one penalty. Marie Laure Brunet of France claimed the Silver medal, 56.4 seconds back, while Sweden’s Helena Ekholm, 1:11.1 back won the Bronze medal. Brunet and Ekholm matched Berger on the shooting range with one penalty.
Dorin Habert in Fourth
Fourth went to Brunet’s teammate, Marie Dorin Habert, also with one penalty, 1:14.7 back. Fifth went to Susan Dunklee of the USA, with one penalty, 1:18.2 back, while Russia’s Olga Zaitseva finished sixth, with two penalties, 1:26.1 back.
Warm Afternoon; Strong Sun
The women had another beautiful, warm afternoon today. However, that was also problematic as the sun bore glared from the right side on the shooting range. Many of the women wore an extra eye shade to block the sun’s strong rays. Most of the top women were in the first thirty starters and most of them fell by the wayside with quick penalties, including Sprint Champion Magdalena Neuner and Pursuit Champion Darya Domracheva. France’s two shooting stars, Dorin Habert and Brunet set the tone early. Dorin went through the first three stages with just a single penalty. Brunet was clean in all three. Defending Champion Ekholm, Berger and the surprising Susan Dunklee also had single penalties in the first three stages.
All through the competition, it was quite obvious that other than the single penalty in the first prone stage, Berger was putting together an outstanding day. She was skiing powerfully, ignoring another day of soft snow here in Ruhpolding. Brunet was the leader all the way through the third stage. At that point she had a 27.5 lead on Berger and 1:15.3 on Ekholm who was in fourth position, just behind Dunklee.
Final Standing Stage Decisive
The final standing stage was decisive for everyone. Brunet, who not a penalty at that point, dropped the first four targets, and then missed the last one. Berger shot with authority, cleaned and took the lead for the first time. Ekholm, Dunklee, and Dorin Habert also shot clean. However the Olympic 15K Champion Berger was in charge. She left for the final 3K loop with a comfortable 37.8 second lead over Brunet, and stretched that out as she raced to the finish and victory.
Ekholm Moves Up
Ekholm was still in fourth after leaving the shooting range, 1:01 back; by 14.3K though she had moved into third ahead of Dorin Habert and Dunklee. The Swedish star showed down a bit over the final stretch but held on to finish third. Ekholm was happy to move into third. “The final loop was tough, but the tracks were the best of the week here. I am happy that I had enough extra power left today.”
Berger felt that focus was the key to her Gold medal today. “Even when I missed the prone shot, I stayed focused. It actually helped me to relax after that. In the final stage, I was not thinking about the results, but trying to do the best I could. I was fighting with myself on each shot in that final stage. Today was different from some other competitions this year; I stayed focused and finished every shot.”
Her medal was extremely satisfying, for one big reason, “It was my big goal for the season, so I am very pleased.”
Silver medalist Brunet, like Berger and Ekholm also had one penalty. Always one of the best shots on the World Cup circuit, she characterized her time on the shooting range. “My shooting was excellent; it was like a game for me.” As for missing the final shot that cost the Gold medal, she added, “I missed but it is a game. I just forgot to finish my work. Still a Silver medal is really great!”
Arrived Just in Time
Although her shooting was excellent, Brunet felt there was something different today than in previous competitions this season. “My shape is better than before. She arrived just in time!”