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Jonni Mukkala rose to the third best IBU cup ranking of his career. Photo: Esa Kinnunen


To the victories of France's Richard and Norway's Bot in Kontiolahti - Jonni Mukkala the best Finn

22-year-old Jonni Mukkala started shooting towards the end of the race and came 18th in a race dominated by Norwegians.

Jonni Mukkala of Soisalo Biathlon Skiers was the best Finn on the opening day of the IBU Cup in Kontiolahti. Mukkala finished 18th in a competition dominated by Norwegians.

Norway took a triple victory under Johan-Olav Botni's leadership. He left runner-up Mats Oeverby by well over a minute.

—The key to victory was good skiing. I knew I was in good shape. Shooting was a more difficult place, because in the opening competition of the season I had an absolutely terrible shooting performance, in today's competition I was successful and collected only one missed shot.

Mukkala: The home game was exciting

Jonni Mukkala shot a total of three missed shots at the first two shooting locations. Towards the end, the accuracy improved, and in the last two places he shot clean zeros.

The man was satisfied with the whole.

—It was a good race. Yes, it was quite exciting to go to the season opener and the first home games of my career. The skiing was moderate, and towards the end the shooting was really good.

The ranking was the third best of the Mukkala IBU Cup and the best of the normal distances.

—It was great to compete in front of the home crowd. It was nice to have encouragement, which gave the audience big points. Hopefully there will be even more people this weekend, said Mukkala, who also lives in Kontiolahti.

Of the other Finns, Joni Mustonen (6 missed shots) was ranked 37th, Lauri Peltoniemi (2 missed shots) ranked 38th, Heikki Laitinen (6 missed shots ) in 41st place, Arttu Heikkinen (5 missed shots) in 42nd place and Jimi Klemettinen (5 missed shots) in 64th place.

Women's race seconds game

In women, Norway's Maren Kirkeeide and France's Jeanne Richard had a tight fight in the 15 km normal race. The race ended with the French winning by one second.

Richard started the last skiing section 0.2 seconds behind Kirkeei.

—The last round was really hard on the legs, but the only thing that was pounding in my head was "let it go, let it go now", said the 2021 youth world champion Richard in the Eurovision winner's interview.

Third was Norway's Karoline Erdal, 22.5 seconds behind the leader.

For Finnish women, the day did not bring success. Daria Virolainen, who received the right to represent Finland in the summer, was the best Finn. He finished 26th with his four fines. Heidi Kuuttinen (4 missed shots) was in 57th place, Seela Peuralahti (4 missed shots) in 61st place, Frida Achrén (5 missed shots) in 68th place, strong>Emilia Irvankoski (5 missed shots) in 69th place and Sofia Joronen (2 missed shots) in 72nd place.

On Saturday in the IBU-cup, it's time for the speed races. The women's competition starts at 12:00 and the men's competition at 15:30.