Benedikt Doll Wins World Championships Sprint; First Victory, First Gold Medal
Clean-shooting Benedikt Doll claimed his first victory and first individual IBU World Championships Gold medal today winning the men's 10K sprint in 23:27.4. Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe matched Doll at the shooting range and battled or the until the final meters but ended up with the Silver medal, a mere .7 seconds back. France’s Martin Fourcade won Bronze medal, despite an uncharacteristic two penalties, 23.1 seconds back.
The biggest surprise of the day came from clean-shooting Lowell Bailey of the USA with one of the best performances of his career, in fourth place, a step from the podium. 29.5 seconds back. Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic finished fifth, with one penalty, 30.7 seconds back, followed by Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria in sixth, 33.5 seconds back.
Sunny Hochfilzen Sprint
The 103 men in today's sprint enjoyed an again perfectly sunny afternoon, with variable winds on the shooting range. However, the late winter sun softened the tracks, and there was enough wind to keep the penalty loop exceptionally crowded. The start list, with all of the Norwegian men in the last group provided a thrilling and dramatic competition, with suspense until the very last second, with Boe and Doll challenging th early starter Fourcade for the podium.
Doll Watches Nervously
Fourcade, the overwhelming favorite, had penalties in both prone and standing, but his aggressive skiing put him at the top of the leader board for a long time. Fourcade, Anev and Julian Eberhard were top the list as the competition reached the mid point. Doll was flawless in both stages, plus he showed his great ski speed throughout the whole competition, almost never showing down. That brought him across the finish line ahead of Fourcade, but his victory was not assured. Boe also hit all ten targets and left the shooting range with a 9-second advantage on the German. Doll watched nervously as Boe covered the last loop. However, Boe’s lead was slowly, but steadily decreasing. Boe still was 3.8 seconds ahead with 1500 meters to go, but slowed, missing Gold by a mere .7 seconds while take the Silver, and pushing down Fourcade into third. Boe admitted, "My mind wanted to go fast, but my legs were kaput!"
Amazing Moment for Doll
Doll was the happiest man on the podium, “It’s an amazing moment for me today! It was really exciting race. Before I started. I thought I would get my chance with Fourcade missing two. At the end I had a fight with Johannes on the video wall; I thought Johannes would make it. It’s a very special day. I have never won a World Cup, but getting on top of the podium at the World Championships is off the charts.”
On his clean shooting, he added, “I had really good feeling in zeroing, especially in standing, I knew I had to try to hit all five today. In standing, after the first hit target I thought, 'if I hit them all, I will become a World Champion,' and I did!”
Disappointment for Boe
Boe did not hide his disappointment, “It’s not so fun to go out of standing as the leader and lose at the finish, especially with it being so close. I was really fighting in the last loop, but I had no energy left. In the last two kilometers my head wanted to win today, but my legs did not follow my head.”
Fourcade Did Not Expect Medal
Fourcade said he did not expect to win an IBU WCH medal today. “When I crossed the finish line, I expected a Top Ten; when I saw the race, I expected the top five. Two penalties is too much to be satisfied about your performance, but I am happy about the medal.”