Kaisa Mäkäräinen wins her first Biathlon World Cup event of the season on her birthday
A birthday present could not be sweeter.
Kaisa Mäkäräinen topped the podium in a Biathlon World Cup event on her 29th birthday.
Mäkäräinen took victory in women’s 15 km individual race in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic, 22 seconds ahead of Helena Ekholm of Sweden.
“I am not sure if there is much to celebrate about getting older”, Mäkäräinen joked over the telephone.
In the competition, Mäkäräinen picked up two penalties against Ekholm’s one. What speaks of Mäkäräinen’s speed on the track is the fact that she beat the World Cup leader Magdalena Neuner of Germany, who was also awarded two penalties, by no less than 32.9 seconds.
Very fairly, Mäkäräinen pointed out that she was nevertheless not the fastest skier of the day. Darja Domratševa of Belarus missed four shots, but still managed to finish in 5th.
The rarely competed 15 km competition is not actually one of Mäkäräinen’s favourite distances. Yesterday’s win in the normal race was Mäkäräinen’s first-ever in her World Cup career.
Overall Mäkäräinen has topped the podium four times in the World Cup.
The preceding three World Cup wins all came last season, which was crowned by the World Cup overall title plus World Championship gold and silver medals.
Last season Mäkäräinen was strong right from the beginning, topping the table from the opening competition.
This year Neuner has been better. In the previous event in Oberhof Mäkäräinen underperformed and finished outside the top ten, but she does not want to talk about a slump.
“In this discipline finishing 12th is not bad”, she said referring to the unpredictability of biathlon.
Currently Mäkäräinen holds down 3rd place in the World Cup standings, 71 points behind Neuner. Domratševa, who is in the runner-up spot, has a 24-point lead over the Finn.
“I am not too far behind. I will take this one event at a time.”
In the Czech Republic, the women have two more competitions left: the sprint tomorrow, and the pursuit on Saturday.
The Women’s Biathlon World Cup will then continue in Anterselva, Italy, on January 20th.
Before that, however, Mäkäräinen will pay a visit to Finland’s Sports Personality of the Year Gala, where she can expect a proper birthday present.
Her double victory last season has put her squarely in the frame for an award.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Kaisa Mäkäräinen´s biathlon season ends with World Cup victory and tears of joy (21.3.2011)
Kaisa Mäkäräinen wins first-ever World Championship gold for Finland in women´s biathlon (7.3.2011)
Kaisa Mäkäräinen returns to the podium (17.1.2011)
Biathlon World Cup (Wikipedia)
Kaisa Mäkäräinen website
International Biathlon Union