NAfter her next dropout at the shooting range, Vanessa Hinz was inconsolable and just at a loss. “The bad thing is, I can’t explain it to myself. I don’t have a mental problem or anything. I go to the shooting range with good thoughts. And then I’m standing on the mat and don’t know what’s going on anymore,” said the experienced biathlete, who, with her penalty loop, robbed the German women’s relay of the possible first podium finish of the Olympic winter on Friday at the World Cup home game in Ruhpolding.
The quartet with Vanessa Voigt, Hinz, Franziska Hildebrand and Denise Herrmann had to settle for fourth place three weeks before the games in Beijing. After one penalty and a total of five spare rounds, the deficit to winner France was 1:26.6 minutes. Sweden secured second place over 4×6 kilometers ahead of Russia.
Discipline trainer Florian Steirer became clearer. It was not the first time in her poor season that Hinz had failed, especially in standing. In the sprint from Ruhpolding she just about made it into the pursuer on Sunday as 60th. “We failed again because of our own mistakes – even if it was only one shooting -” said the Austrian, who was “stinky” with regard to Hinz. “The shitty thing is, it works in training. I always hate saying that. But she shoots 80, 100 shots in training and makes a mistake,” said Steirer. “And today she misses five targets with eight shots.”
“I would have liked to find a hole and jump in while standing. It was just a fight from the first shot. I’m shaking, I can’t get my gun steady for a second,” said Hinz and had to admit: “I’m glad I didn’t make five mistakes. I’m brutally sorry for the season.”
Praise for Voigt
Start runner Voigt, on the other hand, attested Steirer a “bomb race”. The 24-year-old should have earned her place in the Olympic relay. Voigt completes her first full season in the World Cup and proves to be extremely strong with the weapon, so that she can often compensate for weaknesses while running.
The three-time world champion Hinz then dropped back to 16th place after her extra round. Without shooting errors, Hildebrand brought the team further forward and can hope for a consideration for Beijing. The former world champion, who has mostly run in the second-tier IBU Cup in recent years, has not yet met the norm. But a nomination would still be possible. Steirer spoke of a very good performance by the 34-year-old from Saxony-Anhalt.
The well-acting final skier Herrmann went into the cross-country ski run in ninth place, more than one and a half minutes behind, and risked everything on the shooting range. Despite two spare rounds, a show of strength on the final lap helped her to miss the podium by just 14.4 seconds.
Preuss continues to struggle with corona infection
The health of Franziska Preuss, who would have been the final runner under normal circumstances, continues to cause concern. It seems more questionable than ever whether the overall World Cup third place from the previous winter until the Olympics will become a real reinforcement. “Franzi is not doing quite so well. She has even smaller problems with her corona infection,” said women’s trainer Kristian Mehringer on ZDF. Preuss is not yet in training. There is still hope that “it will go uphill in the next few days. At the moment it’s not like she can think about competitions.”
Preuss injured his ankle when he fell down the stairs in December and later caught a corona infection. Third place in the overall World Cup from the previous season was already missing in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. Next week is the last World Cup before the Olympics in Antholz, Italy. There at the physically demanding height of almost 1500 meters – similar to the Olympic routes – Preuss will not start. Their participation in the last preparation before Beijing there is not yet certain.