Even problems with a jammed rifle lock could not stop Denise Herrmann-Wick. After 15 exhausting kilometers, the 34-year-old flew powerfully towards the finish line. In the end, Germany’s best biathlete was happy about her next podium with third place.

At the start of the penultimate World Cup season in Östersund, Sweden, the Olympic champion was only beaten by the Italians Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi in the individual. “95 percent hit performance and then on the podium, that’s a really cool thing,” said Herrmann-Wick, beaming with joy.

Vittozzi gets the Small Crystal Ball

While the top duo – Vittozzi won the small crystal ball for the individual discipline rating – shot clean, Herrmann-Wick missed the third of their first five shots in perfect winter weather with bright sunshine and minus nine degrees Celsius. A penalty minute was the result. But the Saxon didn’t let that put her off course, the other 15 cartridges all ended up in the black. And that despite the fact that the lock on her gun kept getting stuck due to the cold and she couldn’t shoot as smoothly as usual. “I had a bit of a problem with repeating, the lock was damn hard to open and close,” she explained.

On the third shooting, there was a full seven seconds between the second and third shot. “You have to stay cool, I managed that. But I was a little annoyed because you want to do it perfectly,” said Herrmann-Wick, who slept in on the rest day on Friday and then with assistant coach Sverre Olbu Röiseland on her wants to tinker with the lock so that it will slide again in the relay and in the mass start at the weekend.

For the fourth time she made it into the top three in a World Cup race this winter. And that in a place that is particularly important to her, where the next circle came full circle for the 34-year-old. Because in Östersund she celebrated her first two World Cup victories as a ski hunter in December 2017, and she also won her first World Cup title there in 2019. “I was really looking forward to Östersund, it’s one of my favorite places,” she said. At the home World Championships in Oberhof, she celebrated gold in the sprint and silver in the pursuit. She fired her first shots on the Rennsteig in spring 2016 after switching from cross-country skiing.

Herrmann-Wick: No worries about the future

For Herrmann-Wick it could be the last races in central Sweden, because it cannot be ruled out that she will retire after the season. How much she would be missed is shown by the fact that the former cross-country skier is responsible for all six podium finishes, including three wins, of the women’s team in the World Cup and at the World Championships.

But “Mama” Herrmann-Wick isn’t worried about the future, as she said after the Oberhof races. Vanessa Voigt (1 mistake) in sixth place and Hanna Kebinger (2) in her first World Cup individual in eleventh place showed that her teammates are also among the best in the world. “I’m really satisfied, especially the running was ok after a few difficult weeks on the track,” said Voigt. Kebinger, who won silver at the World Championships in Oberhof with Herrmann-Wick, Voigt and Sophia Schneider, who was absent this time due to illness, said: “It’s really good for me here.” Janina Hettich-Walz (2) was 24th and Anna Weidel (2) finished 43rd.