Arnd Peiffer Wins Olympic Sprint Gold; German Sweep
Germany’s Arnd Peiffer matched teammate Laura Dahlmeier’s victory and clean shooting of yesterday by taking the men’s 10K sprint Gold medal this evening in 23:38.8,giving Germany a sprint sweep. Michal Krcmar of Czech Republic won the Silver medal, also shooting clean, 4.4 seconds back. Dominik Windisch of Italy won the Bronze medal, with one penalty, 7.7 seconds back.
Sweep; “Started to Believe”
The Dahlmeier/Peiffer sprint sweep was the first by a single nation since the inclusion of women in the Olympic Winter Games in 1992. This was Peiffer’s ninth career win, with seven of them in sprints including the 2011 IBU World Championship title in Khanty Mansiysk. Peiffer commented on his win. “When I was at the finish I knew I had done a good job: shot clean and skied well; I thought a top six was possible. Then Stefan told me that everyone was missing and only few could challenge my time and I started to believe it was possible.”
Fourth place went to Austria’s Julian Eberhard, 8.4 seconds back, with Norway’s Erlend Bjoentegaard fifth, 17.4 seconds back and Germany’s 2017 IBU World Champion Benedikt Doll sixth, 17.6 seconds back. All three men had a single penalty.
Carbon-Copy Weather; Only Four Shoot Clean
This was weather-wise, almost a carbon copy of the women’s competitions, with a stiff breeze across the shooting range and actually colder temperatures, about minus 11C at the start. Although 29 men cleaned prone under the tough conditions, only four men including Peiffer and Krcmar managed to make it to the finished unscathed on the shooting range.
Taping Everything for Warmth
Windisch explained just how tough the conditions were this evening. “I think it was really cold, I tried to cover everything; the wind was not easy because it kept changing… We tried to taping my hands and fingers because of the cold, so that the wind could not get in the gloves and keep me warm.”
Favorites Fall; Bjoentegaard Leads
The wind complicated things almost immediately, with several favorites including Jakov Fak, Emil Hegle Svendsen picking up single penalties in prone and most notably Johannes missing three shots. The early lead in prone went to the unlikely Norwegian, Erlend Bjoentegaard with Simon Schempp, Julian Eberhard, Benedikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer, sitting 7.7, 12.6, 17.1 and, 18 seconds back respectively the biggest names in the early starters to also clean prone. Just behind this group, Krcmar and Windisch also cleaned. All of this happening while Fourcade wearing start number 54 watched, waiting to start. Then as with Johannes, Fourcade went to the penalty loop for three tours.
Peiffer Cleans; Takes Charge
By the standing stage, it looked like a German/Austrian dual meet. Eberhard, Doll and Schempp all had single penalties, while the Norwegian had two penalties. Still everyone in this group was skiing very well. Peiffer had cleaned standing just before Schempp with the tall veteran taking the lead out of the stadium. Krcmar made his claim for the podium with a second clean stage and was just 6.8 seconds behind Peiffer. Windisch followed his Czech rival in standing, dropping the first four shots and missing the last; yet was skiing fast enough to head for the finish in third. Behind them, Fourcade was flying around the tracks and cleaned the standing stage with ease, moving from 56th after prone to 8th after standing.
Peiffer, Krcmar and Windisch
Krcmar and Windisch both skied just fast enough on the final 3.3K loop to get by Eberhard, but could not quite get to Peiffer, holding the lead at the finish by 4.4 seconds over Krcmar. Fourcade tried to challenge this group but only gained 2 seconds on the last loop to finish eighth.
The podium was set, with Peiffer, Krcmar and Windisch taking the three Olympic medals, the first individual OWG medals for the trio. Peiffer also owns an Olympic relay Silver medal from Sochi, while Windisch has an Olympic Mixed Relay Bronze medal from those same Games.
Peiffer remained surprised about the biggest day in his career. “I don’t know how this could happen. The other two were dominating the season in ski times and on the range, so I didn’t expect that anyone would be in front of them, for sure not me. “
Krcmar, “No Words”
Krcmar was equally baffled and almost speechless by his good fortune. “For me it is a big b medal, it’s very spurring to get it in a sprint. I had bad feelings on the on the tracks and shooting range in training. I feel like I am lucky man, I had very good conditions on the standing shooting and in the track was just good. I have no words to describe it.”
Individual Medal Harder to Win
Windisch explained the difference between his mixed relay medal and this individual one. I don’t know if I enjoyed the relay medal or this one more. The relay is always a tough race because you are racing for your friends and it is more pressure. But to do it by yourself, is even more special in a way because there are so many guys out there that can win on any day; an individual medal feels harder. But, in the end, in relay ,the emotions are even bigger because you can celebrate and enjoy it with your team.'