We continue to recall the most bright and memorable moment of biathlon history in Ugra. The second and final part of the material will be devoted to competitions that took place in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2009 and later.
World Cup Final 2008/09
In March 2009 on World Cup Final Russian biathletes were not able to get any medals. Meanwhile the national anthem of Germany was heard four times. In sprint winners were Tina Bachmann and Arnd Peiffer. Magdalena Neuner celebrated her victory in pursuit and Simone Hauswald was the best in mass start.
Men pursuit was won by Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway, while Simon Eder of Austria celebrated victory in mass start.
Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen got three medals in Khanty-Mansiysk. Back then a five-time Olympic champion won two silver and one bronze medal and for the sixth time in his career got the Big Crystal Globe.
As for the biathlon stadium of Khanty-Mansiysk, in 2009 the first stage of its reconstruction was completed, bigger spectators’ stands were constructed, commentators’ booths were transferred to the North stand and were placed right above the places for visitors. The track was also changed. It became more complicated especially the part before the shooting range. More than that, previously for the most part of a race athletes were out of spectators’ sight, and now the most interesting moments of any competition were taking place right before their eyes. The second stage of reconstruction which gave the stadium its current design was finished in 2011.
World Cup Final 2009/10
In 2010 the biathlon stadium of Khanty-Mansiysk was named after the initiator of its constructing, the first governor of Ugra Alexander Filipenko.
In 2010 Khanty-Mansiysk greeted the winners of Olympics in Vancouver and… was hosting Biathlon World Championships. The last non-Olympic discipline (at that moment) – mixed relay – haven’t defined the best team of the season and for the second time in its history, Ugra became a place where the winners of the main trophies were defined. Gold was won by the team of Germany.
Still the main event of those competitions was the victory of Yana Romanova in sprint. Until that moment Romanova didn’t have any World Cup podiums, she started the race in the last group and, surprisingly for everybody, won.
Many biathletes have finished their careers after the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Then, in 2010, Khanty-Mansiysk bid farewell to German dream-team Simone Hauswald, Martina Beck, Kati Wilhelm, French team was said good-bye to Sandrine Bailly and Vincent Defrasne, while team of Norway saw off Halvard Hanevold. In Russian team that was the last season for its leaders Nikolay Kruglov and Olga Medvedtseva.
World Championships 2011
In March 2011 for the second time in history Khanty-Mansiysk hosted Biathlon World Championships. As experts said it was the most unsuccessful one for team Russia for the last 15 years. Russians didn’t win a single gold medal thus making biathlon fans from Ugra very sad.
Still for many acting biathlon stars as well as for those young athletes that were making their first steps on the way to biathlon elite the races on that championships were more than a success. The victory of women team of Germany in relay made Magdalena Neuner the most awarded biathlete in the history of World Championships having 10 gold and 3 silver medals. Magdalena had succeeded the result of Russian athlete Elena Golovina who had 10 gold and one bronze medal. Other German athlete Tina Bachmann got her first gold of World Championships.
The performance of team Norway was also a big success. Tura Berger, Ann Kristin Flatland and Tarjei Boe became world champions for the first time in their careers. Kaisa Makarainen from Finland became the first Finnish biathlete winning gold of World Championships.
It is worth noting that all races of the competitions got a big public attention. More that 64 300 people had attended the event.
World Cup Final 2011/12
World Cup Final 2011/12 became the last one for two famous athletes – Magdalena Neuner of Germany and Helena Ekholm of Sweden. Both wanted to leave on a high peak of their careers. Neuner succeeded in sprint while pursuit was won by Darya Domracheva of Belarus – who started her career in biathlon in Ugra. She also won mass start. During all the season Domracheva was competing with Neuner for the first place in Women’s total score but finished 28 point below German athlete while Magdalena Neuner left professional sport with a Big Crystal Globe in her hands.
In men sprint and pursuit gold came to the leader of the total score Martin Fourcade of France. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway won mass start.
World Cup Final 2014/15
World Cup Final 2015 will be remembered by three medals of Anton Shipulin (no other Russian athlete was able to show such a result in three races in Khanty-Mansiysk before). Martin Fourcade made an unexpected gift to little girl from Yekaterinburg presenting her a gold medal won in sprint. And the most important thing – Darya Domracheva has finally won World Cup total score.
Although a three-time Olympic champion represents Belarus everybody in Ugra thinks of her as a home girl. Not without reason – Darya has grown up in Nyagan and made her first steps in biathlon in Ugra. So it is obvious, that local fans were cheering for her furiously! In pursuit Darya was very close to making a mistake (on second shooting she was preparing for shooting in standing position)…spectators became breathless and then started shouting “Lie down, Dasha!” Darya heard their voices and everything ended well. Darya’s victory in that race strengthened her leading position in in World Cup total score.
Besides, that year an Olympic champion Olga Zaitseva finished her professional career in Khanty-Mansiysk.
World Cup Final 2015/16
In March 2016 Khanty-Mansiysk again became a host of Biathlon World Cup Final. Once again Kaisa Makarainen of Finland has proved that Khanty-Mansiysk is a lucky place for her. She won both sprint and pursuit. In men sprint the winner was Julian Eberhard of Austria while in pursuit gold went to Simon Schempp of Germany. There were no Russians among the medalists of the event.
Still this was not the most negative moment of the competitions. Because of strong wind on Alexander Filipenko Winter Sports Center in Khanty-Mansiysk a light pole fell on the shooting range. Luckily, no athletes and other people were in this area. All races planned for that day were cancelled. So the Biathlon World Cup 2015/16 was officially over.
The competitions ended with the ceremony of awarding Big Crystal Globes. They went to Martin Fourcade of France and Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic.
We are sure the history of biathlon in Ugra will have many other interesting and exciting pages. The next one will start in a few days, when Khanty-Mansiysk will host IBU Cup Final 2017/18.