Anastasiya Kuzmina got off to the perfect start on the final Biathlon World Cup weekend of the season as she took victory in the Sprint, securing the Crystal Globe.
Coming into the final weekend Kuzmina was one of a number of athletes with overall World Cup ambitions, with the women’s tour far more open than the men’s side, where Johannes Thingnes Boe is dominating.
The Slovakian did miss one shot during her run but she skied magnificently to open up a gap of 25.1s between herself and compatriot Paulina Fialkova which stood until Germany’s Franziska Preuss closed the gap to 21.2s to take silver.
Kuzmina repeats her victory at Holmenkollen last year and she has begun her final weekend before retirement in the best way possible.
That is because the other big story of the day was a terrible day of shooting for Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi.
The 24-year-old missed a total of five times which put her way down the final standings.
Before today she had come into the weekend joint-top of the overall standings along with fellow Italian Dorothea Wierer.
Wierer is now the outright leader of the standings but she wasn’t able to build as big a lead as she would have wanted to as she had to settle for 11th position.
It means she moves to 882 points, 30 ahead of Vittozzi who finished all the way down in 68, which in turn rules her out of the pursuit on Saturday.
However, with the final total score for the women’s World Cup having the worst two results of the season removed Wierer actually stands on 846 points and Vittozzi on 829, with today’s disaster having a small silver lining for the latter.
Kuzmina goes into third with 762 points and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland two points behind when their worse results are taken out.
It leaves the overall standings delicately poised between the two Italians ahead of the Mass Start on Sunday, with Vittozzi forced to watch on during Saturday’s Pursuit as another rider takes the Crystal Globe, and Wierer builds on her lead.
Elsewhere France’s Celia Aymonier skied brilliantly and shot flawlessly but was unable to secure a first career podium as she finished fourth, with Denise Herrmann just behind her despite being the only member of the top 10 to miss twice.
One of the interesting facets of race was just how many of the late starters were able to push higher up the standings and push for contention.
Preuss started 90th and Canada’s Emma Lunder, who started 82nd, was able to finish ninth.