Struggle for Crystal Globe becoming much tougher

Nadezhda Skardino’s took the third place, showing the best result among Belarusian biathletes in Pokljuka
By Valentin Orlov

At the World Cup event in Pokljuka, everyone expected to see Darya Domracheva climb the medals podium. However, it was Nadezhda Skardino who rose to the challenge, taking bronze in the sprint, behind Czech Gabriela Soukalova and German Miriam Gцssner.

Domracheva was initially absent, despite needing success in as many events as possible to help her in her quest for the Big Crystal Globe. The third round of the World Cup hardly helped her, since Ms. Domracheva missed the sprint and pursuit due to illness. Nine misses in the mass start left her in disappointing 21st place.

A week ago, Nadezhda came seventh in sprint but failed to reinforce her brilliant marksmanship with speed. Everything came together in Pokljuka’s 7.5km sprint, with no misses at either of the two shooting ranges. Her result of 22 minutes 39.9 seconds left her just 30.1 seconds behind the winner, Czech Gabriela Soukalova.

The performance is the best of her career to date at the World Cup and is her first medal at the event. Beforehand, Ms. Skardino’s highest achievement was fourth place at the 2011 World Championship in Russian Khanty-Mansiysk (individual race). In the pursuit, she missed one shot, which left her in sixth place. However, she gained the right to a front line position in the mass start, alongside newly recovered Domracheva.

Unfortunately, the girls failed to build on this, with Darya’s marksmanship going downhill from her second arrival at the shooting range and Skardino missing four shots at the second shooting range. Both finished only in the third dozen.

Ms. Domracheva’s major World Cup rival, Norwegian Tora Berger, did not perform brilliants, although she remains an impressive 124 points ahead. Gabriela Soukalova, Miriam Gцssner and Andrea Henkel have now interposed themselves between Berger and Domracheva, ensuring that the struggle for supremacy remains thrilling for the whole biathlon season.
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