Darya Domracheva of Belarus put on a dazzling performance to win the Olympic Pursuit Gold medal this evening, hitting every shot except the final one to leave Silver medalist Tora Berger of Norway, also with one penalty, 37.6 second back. Domracheva finished in 29:30.7. Slovenia’s Teja Gregorin came out of the pack to win Bronze, with one penalty, 42 seconds back. Fourth went to Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic, with one penalty, 47.6 seconds back.
Perfect evening number four, with again no wind, but the tracks were soft due to the continuing warm temperatures. This did nothing to keep Domracheva from taking the lead after the second prone stage and then skiing her way to Gold. The Belarusian, who started 32 seconds back, maintained her lead to the first standing where again, she slowly hot all five targets. Kuzmina cleaned and moved back into second position, but 32 seconds back with Berger, clean in three stages now in third, but 44 seconds off the pace, with Valj Semerenko, Gabriela Soukalova, and Susan Dunklee just behind her.
Domracheva skied easily through the soft snow into the stadium for the final standing stage. She hit the first four before she missed and had a single penalty; all before anyone else shot. After her tour of the penalty loop, she left on her way to Gold with a 36.6 second lead over Semerenko. Berger, Gabriela Soukalova and now Vilukhina at 50 plus seconds back were in a battle for the podium. Berger moved up to second but 40 seconds back at 8.9K, with Gregorin now in the Bronze spot. The standings stayed that way as no one else could challenge Gregorin or Tora Berger.
Domracheva, who had the fastest ski time in the sprint, defeated the now almost legendary tough tracks here again. She won the 15K individual at last March’s Sochi World Cup with a similarly dominating performance on her skis. At that time, she commented, « This is a course where you need to use your muscles and brain together. » She proved that to be true again this evening. Domracheva admitted to having very good skis. « I am very thankful to my wax man for his work…big thanks to all of the guys on my wax team. »
Her Gold medal was the second ever in the Olympic Winter Games for Belarus. She had a plan to achieve that milestone for her country. « I tried to be really calm today and was confident before the race which is something that happens not so often. I tried to be in the moment and follow all of the steps. I focused on the shooting and each shot when I was in the range and focused on the tracks there. I did it well. I took this Gold and am really happy now. It was an amazing race and I was so happy to cross the finish line…Now I may be a little short on emotions after answering so many questions. »
source : biathlonworld.com photo : @SpeakRussianNow