Swiss biathlete Gasparin wins World Cup sprint

HOCHFILZEN, Austria (AP) Selina Gasparin became the first Swiss biathlete to win a World Cup race by taking the women's 7.5-kilometer sprint on Friday.

In difficult conditions due to fierce winds and snowfall, Gasparin overcame a penalty lap after missing one target in the stand shooting to finish in 23 minutes, 16.9 seconds.

Veronika Vitkova of Czech Republic trailed Gasparin by 1.2 seconds in second and Irina Starykh of Russia was 2.1 seconds back in third.

"I've been dreaming so long to even get to the podium," said Gasparin, whose best result was fourth in Oestersund, Sweden, last year.

"I missed the last shot and I thought, 'Oh no, not again!'" the 29-year-old Swiss said. "But I was fast enough on the final lap."

With a strong wind blowing over the shooting range from left to right, many athletes struggled.

Defending overall champion Tora Berger of Norway missed two targets but rallied to finish fourth, 6.4 seconds behind Gasparin. Berger went top of the sprint standings with 91 points, leading Russian pair Olga Zaitseva and Irina Starykh, who each have 88.

Two months before defending her Olympic sprint title, Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia placed 13th, 41.2 seconds off the lead after two mistakes at stand shooting.

Gabriela Soukalova of Czech Republic finished 23rd after two misses but remained in the lead of the overall standings with 116 points, leading Zaitseva by four points.

A men's 10K sprint was scheduled later Friday.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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