Latvian biathlete Baiba Bendika finished 21st in the fifth round of the World Cup (Oberhof) in the sprint competition at Oberhof on Friday, but Sanita Buliņa finished 99th.
The victory was celebrated by the Norwegian Tiril Ekhof, who shot flawlessly and finished the distance after 23 minutes and 54 seconds, 29.6 seconds ahead of the perfectly shot Swede Hann Eber and 40.2 seconds ahead of the Austrian Tereza Lisa Hauser, who once made a mistake in the second shooting range. This is Austria’s first podium at the World Cup. So far, the highest place was the fifth.
Bendika went on the runway with the starting number 77 and, once he made a mistake while shooting wide, he also fired a bullet near the target in the second shot. He finished 21st in one minute and 24.6 seconds behind the winner, securing a place in the race on Saturday.
Buliņa, which started with the number 101, took the 99th place in the competition of 104 athletes. She made three mistakes when she stretched, once again when she stood upright, and only 11 biathletes shot even worse. He was five minutes and 50.4 seconds behind Ekhof.
After five stages of the competition, the Norwegian Marte Ulsbū-Reiselanna leads the sprint with 228 points, followed by the Swedish Hanna Ēberja with 224 points and the Norwegian Tiril Ekhof with 208 points. Bendika is on the 42nd place in three competitions with 41 points. In the general classification of all disciplines after ten competitions, Ulseb-Reiselanna is first with 455 points, Eberja has 432 points, and Ekhof has 406 points. Bendika with 41 points occupies the 50th position.
The leader of the Latvian women’s national team Bendika missed the first two stages of the World Cup this season due to illness with Covid-19. In two stages on the Austrian track in Hohfilzen, he finished in 20th place and 85th in the sprint, with one and five penalty laps respectively. In the third stage, she also took 49th place in the pursuit, overcoming the goal seven times.
Last season, Bendika competed in eight sprints as part of the PK competition. The biggest achievement with a missed bullet was the 12th place in the world championship on the Italian track in Antholca, as well as the 15th place in the last stage of the season at Kontiolahti. In the PK stage 2015/2016 on the Kenmore track in Canada, Bendika reached the highest place in the history of Latvian women’s biathlon in the PK competition – the fifth.
Also, Buliņa only participated in both sprint competitions in Hohfilzen. In the first of them, he only needed four places and 10.5 seconds to enter the driving competition with the ideal shooting already in the first mode – the 64th place out of 109 athletes. In the previous stage, four shooting errors and the 103rd place. Last season, the German Denīze Hermane remained undefeated in the general classification of the sprint, but the Italian Dorothea Vīrere won the Big Crystal Globe.
The ten-kilometer sprint competition for men, with the participation of three Latvian biathletes, will start on Friday at 15.15, Latvian time. The main Latvian biathlete Rastorgujev will go on the track with number 24, but his compatriots Edgars Mises and Roberts Slotiņš received the prizes 83 and 99 starting numbers respectively. On Saturday there will be men’s and women’s pursuits and on Sunday a mixed relay race and a mixed relay relay for the couple.
The race in Oberhof may be affected by the prevalence of Covid-19. It has already been reported that four participants in the phase tested positive for Covid-19 and that local medical authorities are likely to quarantine patients. Thanks to Covid-19, the Latvian national team has already participated in an unusual composition in the first two stages.
Biathlete Baiba Bendika and head coach of the national team Ilmārs Bricis, who did not participate in the first two stages of the World Cup, have already reported positive tests at the Covid-19 camp in Sweden, while Intars Berkulis was the head coach in both stages of Kontiolahti.
The next stage will also take place at Oberhof, but a stage follows in Antholc. Pokļuka will host the world championship in February, Nove Mesto will continue with two stages, and the end of the season is scheduled for the second half of March in Oslo.