Gabriela Soukalova shines again and wins women’s individual in Ruhpolding

Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic made it two-for-two this season in the 15K individual by winning in 40:32.6, with one penalty. She also won the only other 15K this season last month in Östersund. Second went to Darya Domracheva of Belarus, with two penalties in the finals standing stage, 34.3 seconds back. Third went Soukalova’s teammate, Veronika Vitkova who shot clean.

A little rain was there in the morning today in Ruhpolding. But by the afternoon, it was a carbon copy of the previous two days: perfect biathlon weather. Hildebrand with bib number one did almost every necessary to possibly be number one at the finish. She cleaned the first three stages and held a solid lead over the field. Then in the final standing stage, she picked up a single one-minute penalty and her perfect day vanished. Just a few minutes behind Hildebrand, Soukalova put herself at a bit of a disadvantage by picking up a penalty in her first standing stage, However, she maintained her solid pace on the skis, cleaned the next two stages and looked like the winner. Only one or two other women looked like they could challenge; her teammate Vitkova and Domracheva. Domracheva cleaned the first three stages with ease and was skiing as usual much faster than the field. It would only take 4-of-five shooting in that final standing stage to win; she was more than a minute ahead of Soukalova. However, it was not to be; she picked up two minutes of penalties, and left more than 35 seconds behind Soukalova.

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Since this was the second and final individual competition of the season, it determined the seasonal title and gave Soukalova the small crystal globe with two victories. But today Gabriela Soukalova did not think it was her day before the start. « At the start, I did not think it was going to be my day. I was a little tired from last week in Oberhof. But then I started to think about training and do it just like training. I think that helped…from now, the individual competition is my favorite. » There was a huge cheer as she started which unnerved her a bit, « I am always a little bit scared and with the big noise from the crowd today, it was very scary for me. »

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