January 11, 2012 (Oberhof, Germany) – In tough conditions with snow falling, Germany’s Magdalena Neuner won her second victory of the weekend taking the women’s 12.5km Mass Start with a winning time of 40:02 despite three shooting penalties. Norway’s Tora Berger was only 12.5 seconds back in second with two penalties while Neuner’s teammate, Andrea Henkel had only one shooting penalty to claim 3rd at 32 seconds back. No North American women qualified for the event.
The skiing was very challenging as the heavy snowfall created taxing ski conditions and difficult shooting. None of the top racers shot clean. With 2.5km to go, Neuner took the lead with her strong skiing and didn’t look back taking her second win of the weekend.
“It was a great race and a lot of fun since it is my last time here. I am in very good shape and I had very good skis, so I am very happy with my race,” Neuner told Biathlonworld post-race. “The penalties did not faze me I was always close to the lead and felt all day like I had enough power to handle Tora and Andrea. I was very relaxed all day.”
The snow subsided shortly after the men’s 15km Mass Start race began and it was Germany again as Andi Birnbacher was unstoppable shooting clean on his way to victory with a finishing time of 38:34. In second was Simon Fourcade of France at 24.3 seconds back with only one shooting penalty, followed by Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) in third with three penalties at 29.6 seconds back.
With better conditions a total of 19 men shot clean on the first round of prone shooting including Lowell Bailey of the USA, the lone North American in the field. Nine men shot clean on the second prone round and after the first standing session Birnbacher was one second behind the race leader Klemen Bauer (SLO).
Birnbacher shot clean in the final round while Bauer cracked missing three shots and was out of contention. Bailey missed two rounds in his first standing session, the only shots he missed on the day to finish 16th overall.
“I was pretty tired after the travel and competition in Schalke,” said Birnbacher, “I was still tired in the sprint so it was amazing that I did so well today. Having the wins is good for my confidence, but puts no pressure on me.”