Superb Tiril Eckhoff takes sprint World Championship gold

Tiril Eckhoff took all the glory in women’s sprint at IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka. France’s Anais Chevalier-Bouchet finished second (+12.0), while Belarus’ surprise, Hanna Sola, took the bronze (+14.4).

Eckhoff, one of the main favourites before the race, delivered superb performance and despite windy conditions managed to shot clean. As usually she was fast on the track and did not have much trouble to win her second title at this championships, after Norway’s mixed relay win. “It’s amazing. I am very pleased with my race. Conditions were tough today. I am so happy to get those targets down. On the final lap I was really tired. But I knew when I shot zero, there’s very few that can be as good as me. I took extra time on the shooting today. I knew I had to do my best and fight until the finish. I was really stiff on the last round. I am happy to win,” Norwegian commented after her first win at Pokljuka.

Chevalier-Bouchet earned one standing penalty but it was her powerful skiing – she was the fastest of all the competitors – that brought her the silver medal. “It was a very good start for us at the World Championships. We are very happy. Yesterday I saw men’s race on TV and I said, it’s cool, I want to do the same. I was very afraid about the cold and wind. Honestly, it was OK, I thought it would be worse. I won bronze medal four years ago. It was a long time and a lot of things happened in between. I am happy to catch this medal, it is a lot of work. After break it is always hard to come back,” 28-year-old French shared her thoughts after the race.

Sola, whose best result before the beginning of the championships was 4th place in Ruhpolding from the previous season, swept all the targets clean and with ninth course time secured her spot on the podium. The 24-year-old was super happy with the bronze: “Probably I have not realised it yet, but I was preparing for this medal from the beginning of this season and I am really glad that I managed to do well from the first competitions of the World Championships. I was really relieved after the standing that I could skip the penalty loop this time, it was the first time this season that I shot clean. I just had big wish to fight. The final lap was hard for me, but I did all I could.”

Today, the wind was troubling for many, including the defending champion Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, who lost all her chances for the podium due to two missed shots in the last shooting. She finished sixth (+43.5), right after Germany’s Denise Herrmann, who was fourth (+22.3) and Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi finishing fifth (+37.7).

WOMEN, SPRINT (7,5 km)

1. Tiril Eckhoff NOR21:18.7 (0)
2. Anais Chevalier-Bouchet FRA  + 12.0 (1)
3. Hana Sola BLR  + 14.4 (0)