Biathlon legends gathered in Raubichi sport complex

The Legend Race — Biathlon Stars for Peace Festival was held in Raubichi

The Legend Race — Biathlon Stars for Peace Festival was held in Raubichi. 20 of the strongest athletes, including Olympic champions and world champions, took part.

Darya Domracheva, triple Olympic Champion and inspiration for the festival, opened it. Welcoming participants and visitors, the biathlete said, “Let today make history as the birthday of the Legend Race, as the day which will breathe new life into Raubichi. Famous athletes, from all corners of the world, have created the history of our sport. These people have earned the right to have at least one day in a year when they can revisit the atmosphere of the biathlon family once again, and feel that competitive excitement.”

The biathlon stars were indeed full of anticipation. The women opened the competitive programme: ten of the strongest skiing marksmen appeared at the start with the aim not only to win, but also to relive the whole emotional experience. France’s Olympic champion, Florence Baverel-Robert, was the best in the super-sprint. She covered the distance in 13 minutes 32 seconds, having outstripped her nearest rival, Norway’s legendary Liv Grete Poirée by 6.1 seconds! Bronze in this discipline went to Germany’s biathlete, Simone Hauswald. Yelena Zubrilova, repeated world champion, who was representing Belarus, came 5th in the event. Having completed the race, Florence admitted that she had not considered winning, “When I received the invitation to take part from Darya Domracheva several weeks ago, I accepted with pleasure. It is also very nice to win! There is a great atmosphere here in Raubichi.”

Immediately after the women, the men appeared at the start. The well-known Norwegian biathlete, Olympic champion and double world champion, Frode Andresen, became the champion of the super-sprint. Michael Greis and Sven Fischer finished right behind him, with a difference of just a tenth of a second. Belarus’ Alexander Popov finished in tenth place. Frode Andersen said after the race, “Many similar races are held in Norway in the summer, but here, in Raubichi, I could experience all the atmosphere of the festival, the fans were great!”

After the individual competitions, previous champions paired up for a mixed relay race. Sven Fischer and Florence Baverel-Robert won the event. While Swedish-German duet Helena Ekholm and Michael Greis took second place, Bulgarian-German pair Ekaterina Dafovska-Ricco Groß came in third.

All the winners received medals and prizes. Darya Domracheva, though not taking part in the competition, also received an award, a special prize as the best athlete of 2014. Summing up the results of the festival, Domracheva praised the organisers for providing a real holiday for all fans and amateurs of the biathlon, “I have already had experience of the organisation of similar activities, but the Legend Race, with its scale and ambition, differed from all others. It was a real treat for the fans! I think in the future it will be easier to organise the Legend Race: both athletes, and fans will be impatiently waiting for the event!”

There is no doubt about the success of the event, even after end of the races, the visitors were in no hurry to leave the stands, while the athletes remained to thank Darya Domracheva. Sven Fischer said it was very exciting for him to be an active athlete again and to feel the emotions from performing in the festival. Michael Greis described how the race gave him the chance to meet up with colleagues after so many years, and also to compete with senior athletes; “We all leave Belarus with a great impression and very positive feelings of returning to sport.”

The Legend Race should become a symbol of Raubichi sport complex

By Kirill Pirogov

Photo: BelTA, Pavel CHUYKO
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