The season ended on a high note for Laura Dahlmeier of Germany and Jakov Fak of Slovenia, who won the season-ending 12.5 and 15 k mass start competitions in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.
Fak shot a perfect 20 for 20 and went to the front after the third shooting stage. He skied the loop by himself, then calmly cleaned all his targets to finish up, skiing to an easy 10-second win. That also secured him third place in the overall World Cup standings.
“This is a nice way to end the season and win the final event that I won the World Championship in,” Fak said in a press conference.
Tarjei Bø of Norway left the range in second place after the final shooting stage, but was caught on the trails by Russia’s Anton Shipulin. Shipulin left him in the dust once the pair entered the stadium, and skated to second place in front of a home crowd.
“I only wish that I could have shot clean,” said Shipulin, who had two penalties and had to ski the fastest time of the day to make it up to second place. “It is always good to do well here at home, but I would have liked to won a race.”
Canada’s Nathan Smith collected four penalties to finish 17th, and Leif Nordgren of the USA picked up three penalties to finish 24th.
In the women’s race, things were marred on just the second loop by a major crash that snared at least a quarter of the field. On a fast downhill corner, one racer lost control and in the mayhem of trying to avoid her, others went down as well. Three racers fared worse than the rest. Weronika Nowakowska-Ziemniak of Poland lost a ski, which was eventually replaced; it cost her at least a minute and she went on to finish 24th.
Veronika Vitkova, a favorite to podium for the Czech Republic, also lost a ski. She began skating up the the trail on one ski, running with her other foot, until she could find a serviceman with a new ski. She returned to the race, but accumulated five penalties and eventually dropped out.
Canada’s Rosanna Crawford had the worst luck, with her ski running straight through the protective fence and becoming stuck. It was a painful way to stop from high speed, and it took help from several people to get her untangled. She did not continue the race.
With those competitors lost in action, the women’s field raced on. Darya Domracheva of Belarus took an early lead, but picked up penalties in the standing stages and dropped out of contention. Instead, Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic left the final stage first, and put a small gap on Dahlmeier. But Soukalova seemed to have used her energy too early, as later in the loop Dahlmeier drew even with her. Coming into the stadium, Dahlmeier put in a finishing sprint and dropped the Czech.
It was the second win of the season for the 21-year-old German, who ends the year ranked eighth in the total score.
“I never thought back in August, October or even in February that I would win this race or any other this season,” she said in a press conference. “It has been a wonderful season for our team…Now I am ready for some holidays and no biathlon for 5 or 6 weeks.”
Marie Dorin Habert of France finished a solid third, and Domracheva fourth. That gave her the overall World Cup title, for the first time in her career.
For the United States, Susan Dunklee finished 19th and Hannah Dreisigacker 26th, each with six penalties.