Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic won the biathlon sprint title Thursday and closed in on the overall World Cup title.

Soukalova was second behind Kaisa Makarainen of Finland in Thursday's 7.5-kilometre sprint in Russia, 3.1 seconds back.

Soukalova's only rival in the sprint standings, Marie Dorin Habert of France, finished 10th. Soukalova can win the overall World Cup title in Saturday's 10-kilometre pursuit.

Makarainen won the race in 20 minutes, 42.3 seconds despite missing one shot. Marte Olsbu of Norway was third, 4.8 seconds behind Makarainen.

The men's sprint is Friday and the pursuit is Saturday, before men's and women's mass start races end the World Cup season on Sunday.