Erik Lesser is back at the top of the world, for Denise Herrmann the yellow jersey is far away after a failure at the shooting range. After the best German biathlete missed her eighth win of the season by just 0.8 seconds in the season opener individual in Kontiolahti, Finland, she shot herself out of the race in the sprint on Sunday with three mistakes. “I didn’t feel bad. But from shot seven, something must have knocked my mind. I had no real control anymore.”
said the 31-year-old after 38th place.
Nevertheless, she can go into the second part of the Finland World Cup with a good feeling – just like Erik Lesser, who cracked the World Cup norm with his first podium in three years and showed that he is far from being obsolete.
In the sprint victories on Sunday in the empty stadium due to corona by the Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Bö and the Swede Hanna Öberg, Olympic champion Arnd Peiffer was seventh, the individual third Lesser was ninth and Maren Hammerschmidt ninth was the best German. “I’m really happy,” said the 31-year-old, who missed last season with an ankle injury, after her strong comeback. Like Peiffer, Lesser and Herrmann, she got the World Cup norm straight away.
Herrmann missed the overall tour
Herrmann started as one of the top favorites and could have taken the lead in the overall World Cup for the first time in her career and as the first German since Laura Dahlmeier in March 2017. But over the 7.5 kilometers it didn’t work any differently than in the more shooting-heavy individual, where she only missed one of her 20 shots. She left three panes standing. “Now you have to analyze it well and tick it off,” said Herrmann, who declared the attack on the large crystal ball and the yellow jersey as the season’s goal. She got help from the new shooting trainer Engelbert Sklorz, now it is her job: bring constancy to the shooting range.
Above all, Lesser is the winner in the second part of the Finland World Cup, which starts on Thursday. Because after a difficult pre-season with a broken collarbone in preparation and later massive back problems, he now showed that he can still keep up. “I just enjoy it. But I know that it can look different again next week,” said Lesser, who only qualified for the World Cup in the internal elimination races and displaced Simon Schempp. In the previous season he had meanwhile been transferred to the second-class IBU Cup, but then won two medals as a World Cup substitute.
Lesser back on the podium after three years
Now he has impressively followed up with his first individual podium since December 17, 2017. Perhaps because despite his ambition, sport is no longer the most important thing in life. “I know what will happen after my sports career, I can deal with defeats. Maybe that will give me the peace and quiet,” said the family man, who is aiming for a career as a coach. For ex-world champion Benedikt Doll things are not going well after places 29 and 32. “My shape is not yet one hundred percent,” said the 30-year-old.
The ski hunters also had to deal with some corona cases despite extensive hygiene concepts. The Thuringian Philipp Horn, who had a positive test several weeks ago, flew home as a precautionary measure after an “indifferent” finding. In the more than 1000 tests carried out by the IBU to date, eight athletes have tested positive, including trainers, technicians and supervisors, there are 15 cases. “It will settle in, there is no increased risk for the participants”, said IBU press spokesman Christian Winkler optimistically.