Biathlon Review - Germany, Russia and France dominate
25 February 2006
Cameron Morton was Australia’s sole biathlete competing at Torino 2006. The 31-year-old contested the men’s 20 km individual biathlon on 11 February (Day 1), finishing 83rd, due mainly to some disappointing shooting.
Morton missed seven of 20 targets which he put down to nerves and fatigue.
In the men’s 10km sprint on 14 February (Day 4) Morton finished 82nd in a field of 90 competitors, costing him a berth in the men’s pursuit with only the top 60 placegetters qualifying.
Shooting was again Morton’s weakness as he missed two prone and two standing shots out of a total 10 attempts.
Men’s 20 km Individual
Michael Greis of Germany won the first gold of the Torino 2006 Games in the men’s 20 km individual biathlon.
He finished in a time of 54:23.0 to beat five-time gold medallist Ole Einer Bjoerndalen of Norway by 16 seconds. Halvard Hanevold, also of Norway finished in a time of 55:31.9 taking bronze.
Women’s 15 km Individual
Svetlana Ishmouratova of Russia missed only one shot to win gold with a time of 49:24.1. Team-mate Olga Pyleva was looking strong in second place before she slipped away from the fourth round of shooting, breathing heavily and skiing slowly.
Pyleva was able to recover and storm up the final hill of the steep course to win silver. 26-year-old German, Martina Glagow took bronze.
Men’s 10 km Sprint
Germany seized their second gold in biathlon in the men’s 10 km sprint. Sven Fischer shot perfectly and skied in a time of 26:11.6 to cross the line first. Halvard Hanevold of Norway shot perfectly but skied 8.2 seconds slower than Fischer. Hanevold took the silver medal, adding it to his bronze from the 20 km individual event.
Norwegian Frode Andersen produced a courageous performance to win bronze. Andersen was positioned to win the gold, however inaccuracy in the shooting, cost him a tough 150m penalty loop.
Women’s 7.5 km Sprint
Florence Baverel-Robert of France took home the gold after unexpectedly winning the women’s 7.5 km sprint. Baverel-Robert shot perfectly in spite of the variable conditions at Cesana San Sicario, and finished with a time of 22:31.4.
Swede, Anna Carlin Olofssen claimed silver, skiing fast enough to make up for missing a target. Lilia Efremova gained a bronze medal for the Ukraine, finishing 6.6 seconds behind the winner.
Women’s 10 km Pursuit
Kati Wilhelm became the first female biathlete to win three gold medals when she finished first in the women’s 10 km pursuit.
The German skied across the finish line grasping her country’s flag, and finished the pursuit in a time of 36:43.6.
Wilhelm, who was the favourite going into the Games, missed a target in the third shoot but managed to emerge from her penalty lap more than a minute ahead of any other competitors.
Martina Glagow of Germany was one minute and 13.6 seconds behind her team-mate in claiming silver. The two athletes expressed their delight, embracing as Glagow crossed the finish line.
Albina Akhatova of Russia took the bronze medal despite complaining of intense liver pain throughout the race.
Men’s 12.5 km Pursuit
The final kilometre of the men’s 12.5km pursuit at Cesana San Sicario was a side-by-side battle between Vincent Defrasne of France and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway.
In the dying seconds of the competition, Defrasne was able to surge past the Norwegian and win gold in a time of 35:20.20.
Bjoerndalen, a five-time Olympic medallist, finished 2.2 seconds behind Defrasne to claim silver. Sven Fischer of Germany took bronze.
Men’s 4 x 7.5 km Relay
Germany won gold in a thrilling men’s 4x7.5 km biathlon relay on 21 February (Day 11) in a time of 1:21:51.5. Germany took command in the second leg of the relay through 22-year-old Michael Roesch.
He skied an amazing leg that placed the German team 30 seconds ahead of the pack. Germany’s third leg skier Sven Fischer lost precious time by missing four out of eight shots. The German lead was so significant however, that he was able to complete his penalty lap before any other athlete had begun to shoot.
Russia took silver with a time of 1:22:12.4.
The battle between Sweden and France for bronze was decided in a photo-finish. As Sweden's Bergman approached the finish line, he slipped, nearly fell and left his foot out of position. Poiree of France pushed his foot forward to snare the bronze.
Women’s 4 x 6 km Relay
On 23 February (Day 13), army captain Svetlana Ishmouratova led a strong and consistent Russian team to victory.
Ishamouratova capitalised on a strong performance by first-leg team-mate Anna Bogaliy to extend the Russian lead. When Germany’s Katrin Apel missed five shots and had to ski a penalty round, the Russians grip on the gold tightened.
Albina Akhatova completed the final leg for Russia in magnificent form, shooting all 10 of her targets without error, and carried the flag across the finish line in celebration.
The Russian team used a total of two spare rounds in order to finish in a time of 1:16:12.5. Germany, a furtther 50.7 seconds behind, took silver. France overcame a determined Norwegian team to secure bronze.
Men’s 15 km Mass Start
Michael Greis of Germany celebrated his third gold medal of the Games with victory in the men’s 15 km mass start.
Having won gold on 11 February (Day 1) in the men’s 20 km individual and again in the 4 x 7.5 km relay, Greis proved his athletic prowess by adding another gold to his collection.
Greis missed one target in the standing shots but skied very strongly to finish in a time of 47:20.0. Tomasz Sikora of Poland finished 6.3 seconds behind Greis to take the silver medal.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway, who won silver in the 12.5km pursuit and the 20km individual, took bronze.
Women’s 12.5 km Mass Start
In the final biathlon event at Torino 2006, Anna Carin Olofsson of Sweden claimed her second medal for the Games, adding a gold to her 7.5km sprint silver.
Olofssen finished the race in 40:36.5, missing just one standing target. Kati Wilhelm secured her third medal for Germany, crossing the line 18.8 seconds behind Olofssen. Wilhelm’s German team-mate Uschi Disl finished strongly, overtaking several competitors to take bronze.
Disl finished 41.9 seconds behind the winner, completing a very successful biathlon campaign for Germany.
Alice Wheeler / AOC Torino