Justine Braisaz-Bouchet of France won the final gold medal of the women’s 2022 Olympics biathlon program. She crossed the finish line of the 12.5km mass start at 40:18:0 after missing four targets.
The 25-year-old was originally not contended to be in the top three after her disappointing 40th place finish in the 15km individual event. But, her fast ski speed in her penalty loops and short time spent in the range was enough to keep her lead over the Norwegians.
Marte Olsbu Roeiseland’s 93% accuracy on target in Beijing did not avail to much in this race, missing four shots on target between the two standing stages. She had to ski four penalty loops for missing the targets and gave way to Braisaz-Bouchet’s lead. Roeiseland bagged her shooting skills and leaned heavily on her fast ski speed. In a race against the clock, Roeiseland took bronze 34.9 seconds after Braisaz-Bouchet.
Roeiseland is the first woman in biathlon to finish on the podium in all four individual events at a single Winter Olympics. While her performance did not have the dominance she would have liked on the final day, she still managed to write history and ended the 2022 Games with a total of five medals.
The odds were seemingly stacked against Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff. She is down at 79% shooting accuracy this season and had two shaky shooting stages with four missed targets. She managed to stay in contact with Roeiseland after each shooting stage and pushed past her to win silver. She crossed the line at 40:33.3.
Eckhoff previously won two bronze medals in the mass start event during the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics and became the only biathlete to win three Winter Olympics’ medals in the women’s mass start event.
In the beginning of the race, there was no real gap between athletes as they came into the first prone shooting. Germany’s Denise Herrmann pushed the pace early and had a convincing lead on the course. She was in high contention for another gold until she missed one target in both prone stages. One penalty loop effectively leaves athletes at a 40 second deficit out of the range, and she could not recover from two early loops.
Herrmann won gold in the 15km individual race and is a newcomer of sorts to biathlon. She switched to the sport from cross-country skiing in 2016 when she decided she needed a new challenge.
The lone American in the 12.5km mass start was Irwin Deedra who placed 23rd. She missed six targets overall and made her Olympic debut in Beijing.
Braisaz-Bouchet earned her first and only Olympic gold in the last women’s biathlon event at the 2022 Winter Olympics. She did not allow the nerves to get the best of her and proved that when biathletes can shoot accurately and stay diligent on their skis, anything can happen.
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