Franziska Preuß, Germany’s leading biathlete, was unable to add a medal to her illustrious career during the recent World Championship sprint in Nove Mesto. Despite a disappointing shooting performance in the mixed relay, Preuß managed to regain her confidence by securing a commendable sixth place in the sprint event. Reflecting on her performance, the 29-year-old expressed contentment and pride. “Everyone aspires to clinch the medal and I was just a mistake away from it. However, considering my performance a day prior, I’m satisfied and proud that I managed to stay afloat,” she said on Friday evening.
Following the World Cup gold achieved by Denise Herrmann-Wick last year, Franziska Preuß, a native of Bavaria, missed her penultimate shot out of ten. Even a flawless performance wouldn’t have guaranteed her a second individual World Cup medal, the first being the silver she won in the mass start in 2015. Preuß’s potential medal opportunity in the mixed relay (5th) was lost due to a penalty loop, causing some concern that the deeply disappointed athlete might experience a mental breakdown.
“The tension was palpable today, but I’ve encountered worse situations in the past. Thankfully, I’ve regained my self-confidence,” said Preuß, who had to withdraw from last year’s home World Cup due to health issues, expressing visible relief. She was able to devise an effective strategy the day before the event. Her discussions with coach Sverre Olsbu Röiseland and sports director Felix Bitterling also provided significant support, according to Preuß.
Despite stellar efforts, the German team is yet to win its first medal after two World Cup races. On the other hand, France celebrated a historic quadruple victory in the World Cup history: Julia Simon, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet, Lou Jeanmonnot, and Sophie Chauveau secured the first four positions respectively. For Simon, who was overwhelmed with emotions at the finish line, it was her second world title following her triumph in the mixed doubles. “Today’s race was extraordinary, particularly considering it’s the World Cup. It’s indeed a momentous occasion and a dream come true,” Simon expressed. The French team’s outstanding performance could be attributed to the ideal weather conditions, which included fairly warm temperatures and partially soft snow, enabling all four athletes to clock some of the best running times.
As for the other German athletes, Vanessa Voigt, Sophia Schneider, and Janina Hettich-Walz finished at 18th, 28th, and 35th positions respectively. Despite the initial setbacks, Voigt remained optimistic. “We’re only in the first week of the World Cup and are giving our best. We haven’t lost hope yet,” Voigt affirmed.
Preuß, who was the first German to don the yellow jersey since Dahlmeier in 2017 at the opening World Cup in Östersund, is now trailing by 1:05 minutes behind Simon. However, she is determined to give her best in the forthcoming race on Sunday: “I’m in a good starting position. I want to give the French athletes a tough competition.”
Meanwhile, the male athletes — Benedikt Doll, Philipp Nawrath, Philipp Horn, and Johannes Kühn — are gearing up for the first men’s individual race of the World Cup on Saturday (5:05 p.m./ARD and Eurosport).