16.12.2023, Lenzerheide, Switzerland (SUI): Deedra Irwin (USA) - IBU World Cup Biathlon, pursuit women, Lenzerheide (SUI). www.nordicfocus.com. © Manzoni/NordicFocus.
First Mass Start of the Season, First World Cup 20/20 for Irwin
by Sara Donatello
After two solid days of racing in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Deedra Irwin (Pulaski, WI/Army World Class Athlete Program) found herself amongst the top 30 female biathletes in the world in the first mass start of the season. Adding to her list of World Cup personal bests, Irwin shot her first perfect 20/20.
“Emil [Bormetti] and Armin [Auchentaller] gave me an amazing pep talk last night,” said Irwin. “We tried to focus on coming into this race with less nerves and focusing on one thing at a time. It feels incredible to have it all come together. My first 20/20 on the World Cup and in a mass start! I couldn’t ask for a more perfect day.”
Irwin crossed the line in 13th, just +1.27.9 behind the leader, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet of France, who swept the weekend by also winning the sprint and pursuit races. Braisaz-Bouchet was joined on the podium by Swedish sisters Elvira and Hanna Oeberg.
Coming into the mass start, Irwin raced to a World Cup best eighth in the sprint, cleaning both rounds of shooting. In the pursuit, the nerves showed in the first round of shooting with two misses, but she was able to shoot clean the rest of the way and finish 21st. Irwin currently sits in 27th on the World Cup total score with 93 points, which landed her bib 27 in the mass start.
The coming weeks will be a well-deserved rest period for the U.S. Biathlon Team. World Cup racing will resume after the new year on January 4 in Oberhof, Germany. The weekend will feature another round of sprint, pursuit and mass start races to kick off the second trimester.