Wierer wins biathlon WCup, Crawford claims first podium

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Dorothea Wierer of Italy competes during the women's 15 km individual competition at the biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 11. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Dorothea Wierer of Italy competes during the women’s 15 km individual competition at the biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 11. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Ruhpolding, Germany (AP) — Italian biathlete Dorothea Wierer shot cleanly to win the women’s 15-kilometer individual race for her first World Cup win of the season on Thursday.

Wierer finished in 41 minutes, 29.0 seconds, beating Kaisa Makarainen of Finland – who missed one target on her 35th birthday – by 12.7 seconds and Rosanna Crawford of Canada by 21.2.

“I felt really confident about my shooting in the last weeks,” said Wierer, whose last win was at Canmore, Canada in February 2016.

Crawford also shot cleanly as she claimed her first ever podium place.

“Not something I was really expecting this season,” the Canadian said.

Ukrainians Yuliia Dzhima and Valj Semerenko finished fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Darya Domracheva.

Belarus teammate Nadezhda Skardino’s seventh place was enough to win the individual crystal globe after her first place in Ostersund, Sweden.

“It was my dream, and now it’s one dream less in my life,” Skardino said. “I’m very happy.”

Overall World Cup leader Anastasiya Kuzmina finished ninth, 1:32.3 behind with three missed targets.

After 11 races, Makarainen cut the Slovakian biathlete’s lead to 25 points with 11 events to go.

Makarainen was presented with a small cake and urged to make a wish for her birthday as she blew out the candle.

“Can anybody guess what it might be?” the Finn joked.

Kuzmina leads on 454 points, ahead of Makarainen on 429 and Wierer on 378.