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Lena Häcki-Gross triumphs in the mass start in Oslo

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Lena Häcki-Gross triumphs in the mass start in Oslo

Until the World Cup in Nove Mesto at the beginning of February, Häcki-Gross’ World Cup season was more than satisfactory; the crowning achievement was the individual triumph in Antholz in mid-January. There were also two more podium places. The hopes for the climax this winter were correspondingly high and the results were all the more sobering.

The first race in Oslo was also a big disappointment for Häcki-Gross. With 36th place in the individual, the 28-year-old from Obwalden failed to defend her lead in the overall ranking in this discipline and fell back to 4th place. Their reaction in the 12.5 km mass start race was all the more impressive. In difficult conditions – the wind was very changeable – she only recorded two missed shots and underlined her progress on the cross-country ski trail.

During the last of four shooting events, Häcki-Gross noticed that the Frenchwoman Julia Simon, the four-time world champion in Nove Mesto, missed a target. She took advantage of this opportunity. She made no mistakes and reached the finish 16.9 seconds ahead of the Frenchwoman. “Yesterday I had a fall and felt really terrible. I didn’t sleep very well that night, but I thought today is a new day,” Häcki-Gross said. “The last lap was tough because I knew Simon was behind me.”

So far, 3rd place in January in Antholz was her best result in a mass start race. Now, like the retired Selina Gasparin, she has triumphed twice at World Cup level. Otherwise, no one from Switzerland has ever managed to win the Biathlon World Cup.

After the disappointments, the victory is even more satisfying for Häcki-Gross. “It was important for me to deal with the setback (on Friday) quickly because the season still goes on for a while.” She described the success as “a bit surprising. I knew that I was still in top shape, but a victory in the mass start is something very special.”

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Baserga and Stalder far back

Amy Baserga, the second Swiss woman in this race, had to settle for 22nd place after four errors in the last two shooting stages. In the men’s category, Sebastian Stalder, the only Swiss, did not get past 30th and last place, although his shooting performance was solid with three errors. The victory was secured by the Norwegian Sturla Holm Laegreid, who had already won the individual on Friday.

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