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Berger, Gasparin win biathlon World Cup sprints

December 6, 2013

HOCHFILZEN, Austria (AP) — Lars Berger of Norway overcame two missed targets to take a World Cup 10-kilometer sprint, while Selina Gasparin became the first Swiss biathlete to win a race in the women’s 7.5K sprint on Friday.

Berger missed twice in the stand shooting before finishing in 25 minutes, 2.0 seconds for his seventh career victory and first since January 2011.

The winner of the previous three World Cup sprints, overall leader Martin Fourcade of France was 13.6 seconds back in second. Fourcade shot flawlessly but couldn’t match Berger’s pace at skiing as snowfall made conditions harder after Berger finished.

Fourcade remains in the lead of both the overall and the sprint standings.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway missed one target and finished 15.3 off the lead in third, while former overall champion Tarjei Boe came 17.0 seconds back to become the third Norwegian in the top four.

With a strong wind blowing over the shooting range from left to right, many athletes struggled.

In the women’s race, Gasparin missed one target in the stand shooting to finish in 23 minutes, 16.9 seconds.

Veronika Vitkova of Czech Republic trailed Gasparin by 1.2 seconds in second and Irina Starykh of Russia was 2.1 seconds back in third.

“I’ve been dreaming so long to even get to the podium,” said Gasparin, whose best result was fourth in Oestersund, Sweden, last year.

“I missed the last shot and I thought, ‘Oh no, not again!’” the 29-year-old Swiss said. “But I was fast enough on the final lap.”

Defending overall champion Tora Berger of Norway missed two targets but rallied to finish fourth, 6.4 seconds behind Gasparin. Berger went top of the sprint standings with 91 points, leading Russian pair Olga Zaitseva and Irina Starykh, who each have 88.

Two months before defending her Olympic sprint title, Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia placed 13th, 41.2 seconds off the lead after two mistakes at stand shooting.

Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic finished 23rd after two misses but remained in the lead of the overall standings with 116 points, leading Zaitseva by four points.

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