Clean-shooting Julian Eberhard Wins Pyeongchang Sprint
Austria’s Julian Eberhard hit ten out of ten for his second win of the season in men sprint in Pyeongchang, Korea. Reigning 20K Individual World Champion Lowell Bailey of the USA matched Eberhard on the shooting range to finish second, 40.7 seconds back. France’s Martin Fourcade had two penalties, but skied into the third, 45.4 seconds back.
Austria’s Dominik Landertinger shot clean and set an early time to beat, but finished fourth, 48.1 seconds back. Germany’s Erik Lesser, with one penalty was fifth, 50.3 seconds back. Sixth place went to Italy’s Dominik Windisch also with one penalty, 54.1 seconds back.
Windy Shooting Range
Conditions were tough for 103 men in the sprint with the wind blowing in different directions across the shooting range. As the competition progressed, the tracks got icier and faster: the top three men were all in the last start group.
The podium chances were high for Landertinger, bib number 26. He set the time to beat, but many of the big names were yet to start. The first one to do so was Fourcade, who picked up one penalty in each stage, but rocketed on his skis to beat Landertinger’s time, gaining 19 seconds over the last 3.3K.
USA Lowell Bailey shot clean and topped Fourcade. Then, Eberhard cleaned standing to leave the stadium with a 20-second advantage over Bailey. The speedy Austrian skiing aggressively turned that into a 40 second advantage by the finish.
Pressure Off for Eberhard
Eberhard admitted that having the WCH pressure off his shoulders has made his task easier. “The World Championships were such pressure for us, so when I came here I just thought, "what happens happens, and it happened!' "
Bailey: “I didn’t have 40 seconds in me,”
Bailey said the his WCH performance boosted his confidence. “Sometimes you have these waves as an athlete, sometimes you can have the opposite during the training. Ever since World Champs I felt confident. I didn’t know what to expect, I just told myself to do my best.”
The key to his success is his team. “I have an amazing team: from wax technicians to coaches and manager. At the WCHs it was great to get the first Gold medal for an American. Susan also had a great result in the sprint yesterday."
He said he had no information on Eberhard after standing. “It’s a good thing they didn’t tell me about Julian. All the information I received was that I was in the first place. I didn’t have 40 seconds in me.”
Big Crystal Globe to Martin Fourcade
Fourcade said he was disappointed with his standing shooting. “My standing was so disappointing. I did the 99 per cent of the job. If I make a miss, I can only blame myself. I missed two times today, it was too much for my 12th win this season.”
With his third place in today’s sprint, Fourcade secured his sixth World Cup Total Score title and Big Crystal Globe in a row. The French star was very happy. “I have not forgot that I won something bigger today. That’s amazing. I didn’t realize it at the finish, I was focusing on what I can do better at Olympics, but the TV team told me this.”
He also talked about importance of the Crystal Globe. “I always remember the first time in Khanty Mansiysk. I thought it was so difficult I can’t fight for it again. It means so much for me to be on my idol Björndalen's level to win my sixth Globe.”