Darya Domracheva of Belarus buried the field with her peerless skiing this evening to capture her second Gold medal of these 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Her time of 43:19.6, with a single penalty, was 1:15.7 ahead of Silver medalist Selina Gasparin of Switzerland, who shot clean. Domracheva’s teammate Nadezhda Skardino also shot clean to claim the Bronze medal, 1:38.2 back. This was the first time that Belarus has ever won two medals in an OWG competition. Fourth went to Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic, with two penalties, 1:57.5 back. Anais Bescond of France finished fifth, with two penalties, 2:14.4 back. Sixth went to Soukalova’s teammate, Veronika Vitkova, with one penalty, 2:26.4 back.
Domracheva started with a fast loop and clean shooting in the first stage, taking an initial lead. She was soon supplanted by Kuzmina and Makarainnen as first stage leaders. After the first standing, local favorite, Olga Zaitseva took the lead with her second clean stage, but was soon passed by Vitkova and Gasparin. That first standing produced the only hiccup of the day for the Belarusian, who added a minute to her time with a missed shot. Soukalova also added a penalty. Still Domracheva skiing was so much faster than most of the field that she was only 11.8 seconds off the lead.
The second prone stage proved to be the game changer. Domracheva cleaned and went into the lead, with Skardino and Gasparin also cleaning. For Domracheva, it was now just the matter of cleaning one final standing stage. She came to the shooting range, seemingly relaxed, had a quick set-up, hit one target, then stopped and reset her position; all very relaxed motions. After that the next four shots hit their mark in quick succession and the competition was basically over. No one else was skiing fast enough to catch Dasha. Gasparin and Skardino both cleaned after Domracheva had left the stadium. The Swiss star was just 3 seconds ahead of the second-best Belarusian after that final stage. However in the final 3K loop, Gasparin proved to be stronger and by the finish was more than 22 second ahead, in the Silver medal position.
Gasparin’s medal was the first-ever Olympic Biathlon medal for Switzerland. She commented on her medal and the effort it took today. « It was a surprise when I won my first two World Cups back in December. Then, I started to dream about a medal for the first time. This is the first medal in my career, no junior medals, nothing at all before this. …I thought that the sprint was my best chance and I was disappointed; now I am really happy. ….It takes so much energy each time; you have to believe and fight. This was the first time that I have ever hit all 20 targets in a race. When that last target went white, I was so happy. »
Domracheva admitted that this was a hard-fought win. « This was not an easier race than the pursuit. The tracks were heavy and soft and there were the long loops. I was with Gabriela and she was following easy which worried me a bit. I was fighting so hard on some parts and was so tired. I had now power in the downhills and you need some power there. So I tried to be clever and glide and recover as much as possible when I came into the shooting range. » She added that her wax team deserves a lot of credit for « my really good skis; their work is evident; they did a really great job today. »
source : biathlonworld photo : @12News