On March, 10, at the "Laura" Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center in Sochi, the World Biathlon Cup stage came to a close. The event was held by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee in cooperation with the Russian Biathlon Union and the International Biathlon Union. More than 230 athletes from 34 countries competed for six sets of medals in the three types of Olympic program tournaments. After the FIS World Cup ski racing (February 2013), the "pre-Olympic" biathlon week was the second Sochi 2014 international Test Event at the "Laura" complex which will stage the Olympic competitions in biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2014. The organization and staging of the Test Event was attended by about 60 representatives of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, which tested all the functions and services at the venue in Olympic mode.
The men's individual race and sprint ended in convincing wins from 5-time world champion Martin Fourcade. Thanks to the successful performance in Sochi, the Frenchman not only added Small crystal globes for sprint and individual races to his collection of trophies, but also the second Big crystal globe of his career for winning the 2012/13 World Cup.
Among the Russian athletes in Sochi were Olympic champion Evgeny Ustyugov, who finished second in the sprint and led the Russian team to gold in the relay. In the men's top four winners, along with Ustyugov, were Anton Shipulin, Alexandr Loginov and Dmitry Malyshko. This result allowed the Russian team to win the Small crystal globe for the World Cup relay.
In the women's competition, the largest number of awards in the World Cup was received by eight-time world champion Tora Berger of Norway, who won three bronze medals, and like Martin Fourcade, secured Small crystal globes in the individual races and sprints.
Victors on the Sochi slopes included twice world champion Darya Domracheva (Belarus) in the individual race, Magdalena Gvizdon (Poland) in the sprint and the German team in the women's relay. Among Russian athletess, silver was won by twice Olympic champion Olga Zaitseva in the individual race.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee:
"At "Laura" Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center, the largest competitions in biathlon of the pre-Olympic season took place. For the first time, we tested all the services of the Olympic scenario, including the Olympic accreditation system for athletes and fan passports for the spectators. It was certainly a very important experience. Now we see what we need to change so that the system is more convenient for participants and spectators. This is what we will do immediately after the competition. The World Cup stage was successful and became one of the most popular Test Events among sports fans. It was attended by about 14,000 people and I thank all the fans and athletes for the extraordinary atmosphere that prevailed at the stadium during the competition; it was a real rehearsal for the Games."
Notes to the Editor
The Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center is unique in that it includes two isolated stadia, each with their own start and finish zones, two isolated track systems for skiing and biathlon, a shooting area and warm-up zones.
The center is located on the crest and slopes of the Psekhako Mountain Ridge, 5-10 km north-east of Krasnaya Polyana village. Laura is a stormy mountain river with many waterfalls, which begins on the southern slopes of the Assar ridge within the Caucasus reserve.