The start of the World Cup dress rehearsal is mixed for the biathletes. Denise Herrmann-Wick messes up the shooting range, Franziska Preuss still has a lot of work to do.
After times of great self-doubt, the relief of biathlete Janina Hettich-Walz was tangible, with returnee Franziska Preuss the principle of hope still prevails. For Hettich-Walz, seventh place in the sprint at the World Cup in Antholz finally meant the norm for the home world championships in Oberhof in just over three weeks and the prospect of more consistent top performances.
“This is definitely an important milestone, I’m incredibly happy and relieved,” said Hettich-Walz, who remained flawless, beaming after what has been an extremely difficult season so far. The challenge for the pursuit on Saturday (1 p.m. / ZDF and Eurosport): “I’m very motivated. My husband, my parents and friends are also there at the weekend and I’m just in the mood to run competitions in front of the great backdrop.”
A stable Janina Hettich-Walz is just as important for the German team as Franziska Preuss. But after her forced break again after an infection, the 28-year-old simply couldn’t keep up at the physically demanding height of 1600 meters and finished 38th (+ 1:40.7 minutes). “As expected, it was very tough from the first meter. I think there’s not just one reason for that, but a few. I’m very satisfied with the shooting, I’ll take that as a positive,” said the former relay team leader. World Champion who had to run a penalty loop.
The goal remains the World Cup
She hadn’t been able to compete since mid-December and had to stop training for a total of almost two weeks. The Bavarian recently missed the races in Slovenia and her home game in Ruhpolding. The goal remains the World Championships at the Rennsteig. If she gets through the coming weeks without any problems and builds up her form as planned, then she could “make a difference” at the World Cup, said women’s head coach Kristian Mehringer.
How important the two are for the team was also underlined by Denise Herrmann-Wick, who finished sixth once again as the best German in South Tyrol. “It’s nice that Franzi can walk again. The big goal is Oberhof, by then she’ll definitely be fit. Franzi is a top performer and we absolutely have to have her with us, preferably in top form,” said the 34-year-old, looking at the highlight of the season from February 8th to 19th in Thuringia and added: “I think Janina has slowly found the drive again, she is physically strong and today is a huge success for her”. Overall, the women are a strong team, in which the “younger girls move up and put pressure on”.
Optimism ahead of the pursuer
Individual Olympic champion Herrmann-Wick spoiled another podium place with two penalties in prone shooting in the World Championships dress rehearsal, but the cross-country ski run was almost perfect again with the second fastest time. “Two of the three sub-disciplines were good. That makes me optimistic for the pursuer, it’s a good starting position,” said the Saxon, who finished 23.1 seconds behind the victorious local hero Dorothea Wierer. Hettich-Walz is only 24 seconds behind in the chase.
Season debutant Hanna Kebinger (1 mistake) made it 19th in the sprint, Sophia Schneider (2) finished 21st and Vanessa Voigt (2) was 29th. Herrmann-Wick had the only German win of the season so far in the sprint from Made Hochfilzen in December, she also finished third in the sprint at Le Grand-Bornand.
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