Biathlete Franziska Preuß has added the next chapter to her fantastic comeback. In the pursuit of Östersund, as in the individual, only a touch of a second was missing.
Preuß made only one mistake on Sunday (December 3rd, 2023) and finished the race after 31:41.3 minutes, just behind Lou Jeanmonnot. In a thrilling sprint to the finish, the flawless Frenchwoman ended up just 0.3 seconds ahead and prevented Preuß from winning her first World Cup in over four years. “I fought until the end, it’s a shame that it wasn’t enough. But there are still a few races left“, said the 29-year-old in the ZDF interview.
In the individual last weekend, Preuss had only been beaten by 0.1 seconds. Despite the déjà vu in her pursuer, she defended the yellow jersey and will travel to Hochfilzen in Austria next week as the overall World Cup leader. “That was very cool and a lot of fun“, beamed the former relay world champion.
Voigt “extremely satisfied” after the next podium finish
Third came Preuß’ teammate Vanessa Voigt (1/+18.5), who landed on the podium again after third place in the individual and confirmed the outstanding result of the German biathletes at the start of the World Cup in Östersund. DSV has already achieved podium places eight and nine this season. “The race was ideal again,” said the 26-year-old Thuringian happily. “I didn’t keep my nerve in the standing shooting, but I’m still a good runner and extremely happy with my shooting performance.”
Janina Hettich-Walz (2/+1:45.0) ticked off the first half of the World Cup standard with 13th place. Selina Grotian (3/+3:04.0) and Sophia Schneider (4/+4:30.3) finished the race in 21st and 35th place. Hanna Kebinger had to take 32nd place in the sprint due to “continuing moderate signs of infection” have to cancel their start.
Preuß and Voigt start strong
Behind the sprint winner Jeanmonnot, Preuß and Karoline Offigstad Knotten hunted together in the yellow jersey in the cold chamber in Östersund. Preuß was 18 seconds behind the leader, with Voigt starting the race directly behind her. In perfect wind conditions, both delivered a first error-free series in the prone position and established themselves in the top field. Hettich-Walz, who started in 16th place, was also able to make up a few places with error-free shooting, while DSV talent Grotian fell behind early on with three errors.
Preuß and Voigt maintained their strong running form until the second shooting; Voigt was even the first athlete to enter the shooting range. And again both hit the target with five direct hits. In a group of five, which had already gained a 28 second lead, we went back to the cross-country ski trail. Hettich-Walz also remained within striking distance of the top ten after again making zero mistakes.
Vanessa Voigt was once again able to rely on her good material and ended up having the fifth best running time in the field of 49 athletes.
Preuß fights for victory despite a missed shot
On the route, Voigt and Preuß once again set a high pace, also because the material under their feet was right. The DSV technicians had once again done an excellent job. Preuss opened the third shooting, but the third ball missed the target – a penalty loop and almost 25 seconds behind the lead, where Voigt had positioned himself with a third error-free series together with the Norwegian Juni Arnekleiv and Jeanmonnot.
Thrilling final spurt
Voigt fired the first shot in the final standing position, a bullet missed – a penalty. On the other hand, Preuss again remained flawless and followed Jeanmonnot, who was also flawless, in the last few kilometers, almost seven seconds behind.
The Frenchwoman was quickly overtaken by Preuß, but was able to keep up and kept catching up, especially on the descents. Both turned into the home straight at the same time, where Jeanmonnot broke away from Preuß’ slipstream and narrowly won.“I had such heavy thighs, the lightness was somehow gone. The final liveliness was a bit missing“said Preuß after the race.