Iourieva profits from Neuner´s disaster

25.01.2009, Antholz/Anterselva / Jürgen Palme
Russian wins Mass Start in Antholz
18.000 enthusiastic biathlon fans in the beautiful upper Antholz valley witnessed a very remarkable race today, at the end of which Ekaterina Iourieva scored the first mass start victory in her career in the last before the World Championships.

Copyright IBU/Christian Manzoni
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The Russian leader of the overall World Cup Score won the competition in the total time of 36:37.8 minutes, 13.4 seconds ahead of Sweden's Helena Jonsson and 27.8 seconds ahead of Kaisa Mäkäräinen from Finland.

Iourieva profited from an absolutely flawless performance at the shooting range - she was the only athlete today who struck all of her targets, Jonsson had one miss.

Mäkäräinen returns to podium

After and exciting four-way battle on the last lap, Mäkäräinen won the dash to the finishing line ahead of Germany's Kati Wilhelm and Sweden's Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek.

As the very happy Fin explained after the race: "I don't now how I found the power for the last lap. I was already so tired last night, and in the morning and on the first laps. But sometimes if you want something very much, you can find the power you need somewhere."

Wilhelm's Teammate Andrea Henkel had been ahead of Olofsson-Zidek, Wilhelm and Mäkäräinen at the start of the final lap but was not up to the pace of her rivals. She was completely drained even before the end of her run: "I actually stumbled right before the finishing line. I'm quite glad that I skidded across", she commented with a smile afterwards.

Tough last shoot for Neuner

Through four fifths of the race, however, Germany's Magdalena Neuner clearly dominated the race. The fast German had struck her first 15 targets and was completely in control of the competition.

Before the fourth shooting session, Neuner was in a comfortable lead, 53.6 seconds ahead of Mäkäräinen and 54.1 seconds ahead of Iourieva. Then, disaster struck for the 21-year-old - her bullets did not. In the final shooting exercise not a single shot found home! After her five penalty loops, she was down in tenth place, 1:14 minutes behind Iourieva.