The Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Centre – one of the venues for next year’s Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games – has hosted the latest stage of the 2012/2013 IBU World Cup, the penultimate event in the 2012-13 season.
Most of the top biathletes in the world tested the new stadium, shooting range and tracks in individual, sprint and relay competitions from 7 to 10 March.
The individual competitions highlighted the challenging tracks, which include long uphills and technical downhills, with Darya Domracheva of Belarus overcoming two penalties to win the women’s 15km individual race ahead of Russia’s Olga Zaitseva and Norway’s Tora Berger. After her victory, she said: “My strategy was not to start too fast and save energy and power for the last loop. This is a course where you need to use your muscles and brain together.”
France’s Martin Fourcade won both the 20K individual and the sprint competitions, demonstrating his current strength in a season during which he has won eight times and has worn the Yellow Bib from start to finish. Fourcade put up one of the dominating performances of the season with a clean shooting (10-for-10) 42 second victory. Fourcade commented: “This week, my goal was to get a good feeling for the Sochi tracks…It is really cool to win here…now I have my gold medal from Sochi. It is good for my mind to win here, now I have to win here again next year.”
Poland’s Magdalena Gwizdon won for the first time since 2006-07 in the fog-delayed women’s sprint, just ahead of the 2010 Olympic sprint champion, Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia. World Cup leader Tora Berger, third in the sprint, admitted that the fog delay did not bother her: “It will be good training if this happens again in the Olympics.”
On the third day of competition, Russia delighted the home fans by winning the men’s 4x7.5km relay, while Germany took victory in the women’s 4x6km event.
During next year’s Winter Games, the Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Centre will host both biathlon and cross-country skiing events. The venue features two separate stadiums, with their own start and finish zones, as well as separate sets of tracks for cross-country and biathlon.