Opening of the season
Opening of the biathlon season
The beginning of the current biathlon season was promising, and this was primarily felt for the Belarusian national team
Despite a far from winning 11th place, our shooting skiers showed a very promising mixed relay, in which, despite two penalty laps and a whole lot of extra cartridges, they managed to finish less than a minute behind the winner. When the statisticians calculated the data, it appeared that Belarus’ team posted the fastest speed on the ski track. They outstripped the winners of the race — the French, with a lead of 25 seconds!
Our hopes and predictions have finally come true! The leader of Belarus’ national biathlon team, Darya Domracheva, became the winner of the women’s individual pursuit. She posted a victorious time of 46 minutes 43.6 seconds, with two misses transformed into two penalty minutes. Following the results of the individual race won by Dasha in the Sochi style, the present leader of the Norwegian national team, Tiril Eckhoff, commented, “We lag behind on speed. Domracheva runs enormously quickly, there is no doubt about it. She is good.” Nadezhda Skardino also had a chance to get onto the pedestal, finally taking 4th place, having conceded to the top-three leaders on speed on the ski track, with just one penalty minute. Belarus’ Anastasia Duborezova also finished in the World Cup scoring zone with a 30th placing.
No sooner had the fanfares sounded in honour of Darya Domracheva’s victory in the individual race, than Belarus’ team had another event. They were under pressure not to lose the all round leader’s golden jersey. Fate intervened in Belarusian fans’ expectations. Even Domracheva with her excellent shooting skills could not achieve the podium, her skiing letting her down. She conceded on speed to Mäkäräinen, and Eckhoff, ultimately taking 5th place.
It should be noted that Saturday’s preparation of the track in Östersund did not stand up to scrutiny. The snow was melting and granular, there was a large quantity of stones and hummocks and an inexplicably dangerous curve of one of the turns from the descent led to too many falls and stumblings during the sprint. Skardino also experienced this, falling on the first lap so that, when in the prone shooting position, she had to spend almost a minute blowing through the aperture sight to clear it and to close a jammed bolt. It was no surprise after this that, after 7.5km, Nadya was unable to join the pursuit. Nadezhda Pisareva was pleased with her positioning in the sprint. Having started way down in 96th, she reached the finish in 20th place (121 points), with no misses.
‘Battle of thrones’
The leader of Belarus’ national team, as always, was the fastest in the pursuit race that completed its first stage in Östersund. In pursuit, Darya Domracheva once again showed the best ski moves on the track, winning almost 15 seconds against Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen. In the shooting, Domracheva lost all chance of winning and had to return the all round leader’s golden jersey to the Finn. This was due to five penalty laps, and a rather mediocre firing rate of only 56th from 59. It was notable that Dasha intentionally waits until gusts of wind have passed, but in her desire for accuracy on the targets, the Belarusian lost time, and as a result, was unsuccessful. The Finn shot in much more acceptable wind conditions, but all the same her shooting result (only one penalty lap) is worthy of admiration.
The current result is 19 points fewer than Mäkäräinen in the all-round standings of the World Cup after the first stage. What a splendid ‘battle of thrones’ is expected during the post-Olympic season!
By Igor Leshin