With the best german start in olympic history, the german biathletes put on a great show at the winter games in pyeongchang.
With the german flag in her hand, superstar laura dahlmeier stormed to her second gold medal, shortly afterwards benedikt doll beamed over bronze. Three gold and one bronze in the first four decisions in sud korea – it could hardly be better.
In the pursuit races on monday, germany’s top skier dahlmeier started the race again, winning after ten kilometers with a large lead over two-time olympic champion anastasiya kuzmina from slovakia and french skier anais bescond, despite a pushing mistake. This makes the 24-year-old the first biathlete to achieve a double in sprint and pursuit at the same winter games. Only record-breaking olympic champion ole einar bjorndalen from norway had managed such a feat before.
But in freezing minus twelve degrees, dahlmeier had to really suffer for her second triumph. "It was a really, really tough race, unbelievable! My fingers just thawed out, that was pain, worse than in any race before. It was disgusting," said the woman from partenkirchen, who a short time later canceled her planned appearance in the ZDF studio. "She is just completely gone. It has reduced the celebration of the second gold medal somewhat," stefan schwarzbach, press spokesman for the german ski federation, explained the decision in front of the camera.
After the 24-year-old had completed the media marathon following her pursuit victory, she had to lie down exhausted at the doping test. "The cold simply wears you out. She was really in pain because of the cold," schwarzbach told the deutsche presse-agentur. The renunciation of the television appearance was a purely precautionary measure. "We have learned from the experience of hochfilzen," said schwarzbach. At the world championships last february in tyrol, germany’s athlete of the year collapsed twice after a competition – yet she won a medal in each of the six races. Dahlmeier was the first biathlon athlete to win five gold and one silver medal at a world championship.
World sprint champion doll also suffered. He feared for his health after the race in the pyeongchang icebox, despite warm pads in both gloves, his left hand froze: "i hope i don’t get sick. My neck is already scratching. It’s hard on the body."Nevertheless he celebrated bronze after 12.5 kilometers behind the outstanding frenchman martin fourcade and sweden sebastian samuelsson. Doll had even been on course for silver after the fourth push, but the swede fought his way back and passed him by.
"I’m not upset that i lost the silver medal. A childhood dream has come true," said the man from the black forest after his first olympic medal. Simon schempp, olympic sprint champion arnd peiffer and erik lesser completed the excellent team result with fifth, eighth and eleventh place respectively. "I think it’s great that benni managed to get the medal today," said peiffer.
Behind dahlmeier, ex-cross-country skier denise herrmann was second best german in sixth place. "It’s unbelievable. She’s in such a good mood and mentally so strong. She doesn’t give the competition a chance and deserves to be at the top again," herrmann said of dahlmeier. Franziska hildebrand finished twelfth, vanessa hinz came 13th.
Already a year ago at the world championships in hochfilzen, dahlmeier had set almost game records at the age of 23, which will probably last for a very long time. With five gold and one silver, she won a medal in all six races at the world championships in hochfilzen. Five world championship titles at one event or eleven world championship medals in a row have never been won by anyone in the biathlon circus. In rough events she managed to win a medal in 13 races at the sticks. That, too, is unprecedented.
Dahlmeier is now well on her way to becoming the big star of pyeongchang as well – four more medal chances still await her. So far the most successful german skijager at an olympic event is michael greis, who won three gold medals at the 2006 winter games in turin – in the individual, in the mass start and with the relay team.