Sumann, Soukalova win biathlon World Cup races
KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Russia (AP) — Austrian veteran Christoph Sumann won the men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit Saturday for his first biathlon World Cup victory of the season, while Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic dominated the women’s race for her second straight win.
The 37-year-old Sumann combined clean shooting and fast skiing to finish in 34 minutes, 47.9 seconds. Simon Fourcade of France was 35.7 seconds back in second for his first podium finish this season.
Michal Slesingr of the Czech Republic and Simon’s brother Martin Fourcade were tied for third place, 40.4 seconds back.
Slesingr also shot cleanly to reach his first podium finish this season, while Martin Fourcade, who has already secured his second straight overall World Cup title, missed five targets could not preserve his 40-second lead from winning the sprint on Friday. He still earned his seventh straight podium and 18th overall this season.
Soukalova overcame two penalty loops to protect her lead from Thursday’s sprint race, finishing the women’s 10K race in 30 minutes, 58.8 seconds. Russia’s Olga Vilukhina missed three targets and was 7 seconds behind for second — her best career World Cup result.
Overall World Cup winner Tora Berger of Norway started 44 seconds behind Soukalova but finished just 14.8 seconds back in third place despite missing two targets.
It was 19th podium finish for Berger this season, equalling the mark set by six-time overall champion Magdalena Forsberg of Sweden in the 2000-01 season.
In pursuit races, the winner of the preceding sprint starts first with a time advantage based on the results of the previous race. Soukalova is only the second woman this season to protect her lead from the sprint, with Berger having done it twice — in Ostersund, Sweden, in December and in Holmenkollen, Norway, earlier this month.
Soukalova said she was surprised with her victory and compared it to her first career win this season in Pokljuka, Slovenia, where she won a sprint race and had two more podium finishes.
“My feelings are familiar, that was a shock and so was today,” Soukalova said. “This is great motivation for next season.”
The World Cup season ends Sunday with mass-start races.