Franziska Preuß has not yet been presented with her yellow jersey, but the few German fans in Östersund's ski stadium still celebrated the new World Cup leader exuberantly.
After the 29-year-old became the first German biathlete in more than six and a half years to move to the top of the overall standings with fourth place at the World Cup in Sweden on Friday, she gave her flowers to her followers as a thank you and received many congratulations. The fact that the Bavarian initially had to share the coveted shirt with the Norwegian Karoline Offigstad Knotten was irrelevant given the freezing cold in Östersund. Both have identical points and identical results after two races.
"I was a bit too inconsistent when shooting. Missing the last shot twice is kind of stupid. I was perhaps a bit too impatient. Nevertheless, I'm very satisfied," Preuß told the German Press Agency. Shortly after the race, she had no idea that yellow was enough. Only after intensive calculations did it become clear that she was imitating two-time Olympic champion Laura Dahlmeier. She last wore this jersey on March 19, 2017. "Once you have it, it's a great feeling - and that can inspire you and give you strength," Dahlmeier told the dpa in Östersund and was happy for his ex-teammate Preuß: "She deserves it."
And Roman Rees also has yellow after his opening individual success - the last time that happened in the German team was more than 16 years ago, when Andrea Henkel and Michael Greis started the winter in November 2007 as the overall World Cup winners of the previous season.
Penalties cost Preuß his World Cup victory
Because Preuß was the only one of the top ski hunters in central Sweden who had to run two penalty laps, she narrowly missed her second World Cup victory of her career in temperatures of just under 15 degrees below zero. After 7.5 kilometers she was 18.3 seconds behind the faultless premiere winner Lou Jeanmonnot from France. If you calculate a good 23 seconds per 150 extra meters, Preuß could have cheered less if he had a penalty. “I’m surprised that two mistakes are enough to get us so far ahead,” said Preuss.
Nevertheless, just like Vanessa Voigt, who was again strong (1 mistake), who came fifth just 1.7 seconds behind her teammate, she now has the best chance of a podium in the pursuit on Sunday. Third behind Knotten (1/8.5 seconds) was her teammate Juni Arnekleiv (1/17.6 seconds). For the other four Germans it wasn't enough for the top 15.
There was a special thank you to the wax team. "We had top material. The result goes to the wax truck, that was great fun," said Preuß, who was only 0.7 seconds behind third place. After the test races in Sjusjoen, where the Norwegians dominated and Norway legend Ole Einar Björndalen then expressed biting criticism of the DSV team, the skis are now absolutely top. Voigt also had well-prepared material: "A big compliment to the technicians, they did a great job again, A-1." Preuß had the fourth best running time, Voigt was seventh fastest.
Voigt: “I didn’t feel anything anymore”
While Preuß had no problems with the cold, things were completely different for Voigt. "The mistake simply shouldn't have happened, but I'm glad that I was able to shoot at all. I didn't feel anything in my fingers," reported the 26-year-old relay runner-up world champion from Oberhof. Last season, the ambitious Thuringian also went through some lows, which wasn't always easy for her to deal with. How you can come out stronger was one of the learning effects - and she shows that at the beginning of this season.
The World Cup in central Sweden continues on Saturday (2.45 p.m./ZDF and Eurosport) with the men's sprint. Rees, who sat out the relay with a slight injury, will be starting in yellow for the first time in his career.