Competing in one of the first biathlon races of the season, a sprint in Kontiolahti, Finland, hometown athlete Kaisa Mäkäräinen bested 2015 World Champion Katja Yurlova of Russia by a whopping minute and 23 seconds over 7.5 k.
Billed as an “International Grand Prix”, the competitions featured primarily Finnish athletes but also those from Belarus, Russia, and Estonia. Yurlova, who trains independently from the Russian national team, has close ties to Kontiolahti as a training base.
That didn’t help as both she and Mäkäräinen, the 2011 and 2014 World Cup Total Score winner, missed two shots in standing.
“The conditions were difficult,” Mäkäräinen told Finnish website Kestävyys Urheilu. “The prone was good, and four standing shots were under control, even if one of them went high. The last shot was off completely, it was useless error.”
Yurlova couldn’t keep up on the tracks and finished second. Annuka Siltakorpi placed third, also with two penalties, +2:36.
Matti Hakola led an all-Finland men’s podium in the 10 k sprint. With one penalty he bested second-place Mikko Loukkaanhuhta, who had two penalties, by 59.8 seconds.