Dasha Dashes to Victory
|18.03.2012, Khanty Mansiysk / IBU Info. Dept. JK|
|Wins in Final Loop|
|Belarus’ Darya Domracheva passed Norway’s Tora Berger on the final loop of the women’s 12.5K mass start to secure her second win of the weekend and the seasonal mass start title. Domracheva had three penalties in her 39:01.4 win. Berger, with one penalty finished 10 seconds back. Third went to Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen, with four penalties, 32.6 seconds back.
Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina finished fourth, with two penalties, 45.3 seconds back, while Marie Laure Brunet, with one penalty, 51.6 seconds back was fifth. Sixth went to the retiring Magdalena Neuner of Germany, with six penalties, 56 seconds back.
Neuner Leads Early
The wind persisted for the women’s competition, but the snow had stopped. The group stayed pretty close together for the first loop. Neuner shot clean as did Kuzmina, Berger, and Brunet; this group got a small lead on the14 other women who also shot clean. Domracheva had a penalty, leaving her 38 seconds back. Neuner repeated in the second prone stage and got away with a 19.5 second lead on Brunet and Kuzmina who were also clean. Semerenko and Berger followed with Domracheva next, but 40 seconds behind Neuner. As they came to the first standing stage, Neuner maintained the big lead, with Kuzmina now in second, closely flowed by Domracheva, Brunet, and Berger.
The Big Change
Neuner lost the big lead as she picked up four penalties. Domracheva shot clean, as did Berger who trailed by 9 seconds, with Kuzmina also with a penalty another 20 seconds back. Domracheva pushed the next 2.5K loop, putting more distance between her and the rest of the field. By the time, she reached the final standing stage; she had a 22 second lead. That evaporated with two penalties. Berger also had a penalty but left with a two-second lead followed by Brunet and Kuzmina, 25 and 29 seconds back.
Run to the Finish
Berger’s lead lasted less than a minute, as the determined Domracheva blew past her. With 400 meters to go, the lead was 5.5 seconds and the competition was over. Mäkäräinen had a great last loop to move up from fifth to finish third over Kuzmina and Brunet. Mäkäräinen commented, “The race did not start the best for me, but I have a lot of confidence in my standing shooting now and I decided to fight to the finish. I felt a bit sorry passing Brunet and Kuzmina, but it is nice to be here on the podium now.”
Domracheva was exhausted at the finish line, explaining, “It was a hard fight. I think everyone felt some pressure. I used my strategy on the last loop. My plan was to attack as soon as we left the stadium…and it worked! It was Tora’s birthday today, but I did not want to give her a gift out there. Now I can say congratulations on your birthday.”
Thinking about Crystal Globe
The victory clinched a second small crystal globe for the smiling Belarusian. “All that I was thinking about on the last loop was another crystal globe. I had one last year and two this year; that is progress for me… It was very good season for me.”
Then catching her breath, she added, “I am so glad about this season is over.”
Holding Lead Not Possible
Berger admitted she was equally tired after another battle with Domracheva. “We did this last week; it was a hard fight again! This was a special competition for me and I was really tired. I decided to do the best I could on the shooting range and then as good as possible on the tracks.” Regarding the last loop, she reemphasized her fatigue level, saying, “It was not possible for me to hold the lead; no chance.”
Total Score to Neuner
Although she finished sixth in the final competition of her biathlon career, Magdalena Neuner claimed the World Cup total Score title, 1216 to 1188 points over Domracheva, with Berger in third place.