Darya Domracheva begins her biathlon season with victory!

Belarusian has earned gold medal after winning Swedish Ostersund 15km individual race, which marks the beginning of the World Cup’s first round and the new biathlon season

By Dmitry Baranovsky

“I was completely focused on the firing position today and was lucky with the wind,” she admits. “It was gusting in a way that wasn’t equal for all athletes. I felt relaxed, as my shooting coach, German Klaus Siebert, was nearby. This victory is important for him and the whole team.”

Either Siebert’s prayers or the weather gods helped her find all her targets; coupled with strong ski work, she took her place among the leaders by the fifth lap, creating a ‘decent margin’ ahead of Anna Maria Nilsson of Sweden (who came second for the first time in her career) and, more importantly, ahead of Magdalena Neuner of Germany.

Domracheva certainly proved her abilities, finishing over 40 seconds ahead of Neuner, even leaving aside the penalty minute of her German rival — one of the world’s fastest. Kaisa Makarainen of Finland, who usually wins purely on speed, seems to have temporarily lost her way at the shooting ranges, while Domracheva is shooting courageously and showing a good pace on the track. Neither illness nor surgery is holding her back.

“I wanted to end the race at the second lap,” admitted Domracheva after the finish. “I began quickly, as if it was a sprint, and, unexpectedly, I began to feel the strain. All those missed targets followed…”

We hope her victory in Ostersund will be her first of many this season, where the major test is traditionally seen at the World Championship. Unfortunately, Darya’s teammates failed to match her success. The team’s second hope, Nadezhda Skardino, let her nerves get the better of her, earning seven penalty minutes, and finishing in 59th position. Young Anastasia Duborezova and Darya Yurkevich came 55th (with 8 misses) and 49th (two misses) respectively. The squad’s Alla Tolkach suffered 12 penalty minutes, finishing last.

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