Soukalova wins biathlon World Cup pursuit race

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Associated Press

Posted on March 16, 2013 at 8:35 AM

KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Russia (AP) — Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic won the women's 10-kilometer pursuit Saturday for her second straight biathlon World Cup victory.

Soukalova overcame two penalty loops to protect her lead from Thursday's sprint race, finishing in 30 minutes, 58.8 seconds. Russia's Olga Vilukhina missed three targets and was 7 seconds behind for second — her best career World Cup result.

Overall World Cup winner Tora Berger of Norway started 44 seconds behind Soukalova but finished just 14.8 seconds back in third place despite missing two targets.

It was 19th podium finish for Berger this season, tying the record set by six-time overall champion Magdalena Forsberg of Sweden in the 2000-01 season.

In pursuit races, the winner of the preceding sprint starts first with a time advantage based on the results of the previous race. Soukalova is only the second woman this season to protect her lead from the sprint, with Berger having done it twice — in Ostersund, Sweden, in December and in Holmenkollen, Norway, earlier this month.

Soukalova said she was surprised with her victory and compared it to her first career win this season in Pokljuka, Slovenia, where she won a sprint race and had two more podium finishes.

"My feelings are familiar, that was a shock and so was today," Soukalova said. "This is great motivation for next season."

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